“This vote is a resounding win for the approach that he and I share to beating the pandemic: strong vaccine requirements, strong steps to reopen schools safely, and strong plans to distribute real medicines — not fake treatments — to help those who get sick,” Biden said in a statement.
“The fact that voters in both traditionally Democratic and traditionally Republican parts of the state rejected the recall shows that Americans are unifying behind taking these steps to get the pandemic behind us,” he continued.
Biden campaigned for Newsom on the eve of the election, calling the governor’s most prominent opponent — conservative radio host Larry Elder — “a clone” of former President Donald Trump.
The President told supporters that voting against the recall would protect “California from Trump Republicans trying to block us from beating this pandemic.”
A Newsom adviser told CNN that Biden’s eleventh-hour visit “buoyed” the governor, and the President’s aides believed a strong showing could give Democrats and independents a stronger sense of confidence as the administration fights over mask-wearing, vaccines and more.
As a candidate, Elder pledged to roll back the majority of Newsom’s Covid restrictions, telling CNN in an interview last month that if elected he “certainly will not” require California state workers to get vaccinated or be tested once a week, or to wear masks at work, as Newsom has mandated.
Biden also sought to illustrate what would happen if Elder were elected by pulling from the actions of existing Republican governors during the pandemic.
“People are doing everything they can to block or undermine the lifesaving mandates we proposed, putting their people at risk, putting their children at risk, putting their states at risk,” Biden said. “And here’s the worst thing. For these Republican governors, it isn’t about public health, about the health of the people. It’s about politics.”
Newsom’s message to voters underscored that the recall amounted to a “life or death” choice and promised that his top priority was to keep them safe.
That message, especially late in the race, when fears of the Delta variant emerged, helped him shift the trajectory of the contest late this summer as he painted a sharp contrast between his own response to the resurgent virus and what Elder might have done as governor.
CNN’s Donald Judd, Maeve Reston and Gregory Krieg contributed to this report.