SOS? Newsom calls on White House for help despite lead in polls
In an election about turnout more than issues, it makes sense for the Newsom campaign to "get Biden and anybody else who they think will motivate Democrats to turn out," said Trafalgar Group chief pollster Robert Cahaly.
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If California Gov. Gavin Newsom really has built a commanding lead in the polls, critics want to know, why is he calling on the White House to prop him up in the waning days of the state's do-or-die Sept. 14 recall election?
While recent polls suggest Newsom will survive the recall effort, opponents argue the campaign to oust him is still going strong and are telling Californians to ignore the polls and vote "Yes."
With just one week left before the race is decided, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that President Joe Biden would go to California to campaign for Newsom early next week.
On Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris stumped in the Bay Area after having to reschedule a canceled appearance last week. Harris was supposed to stop in San Francisco on her way back from Singapore and Vietnam, but returned straight to Washington, D.C., after the Kabul Airport terrorist attack. The attack left 13 American servicemen and women dead, four of whom were Californians.
Republican challenger and conservative commentator Larry Elder told Fox News he welcomed Harris coming to California and "hopes that she defends Gavin Newsom the way she defended the Afghanistan policy."
"How is Joe Biden going to defend this man's record on crime, on homelessness, on the outrageous cost of living?" Elder asked in another interview. "The way Joe Biden defends his record on Afghanistan is about how he's going to have to defend Gavin Newsom's record as governor of California. ... Notice the ads are always about 'This is a Republican takeover.' Nobody defends his record because his record is indefensible."
Newsom has called for $16.7 million in taxpayer money to provide cash assistance and other services for Afghan refugees coming to California. "I am proud that California has been and always will be a place of refuge for those seeking safety or a better life — especially for those who served our country, like many of the Afghan refugees coming to America, and to California," said the governor.
Afghan humanitarian parolees "are potentially eligible for state-funded CalWORKs, Medi-Cal and California's Food Assistance Program, if they meet program eligibility requirements," the governor said in a statement.
Newsom has not responded to request for comment about what the state is doing to help 32 California Afghan students stranded in Afghanistan as a result of the frantic U.S. withdrawal from the country as the Taliban swept to power. His office also has not responded to requests for comment on the private efforts being made to bring Californians home since the conclusion of U.S. military evacuations.
Between 500-1,000 Americans are still in Afghanistan, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) estimated earlier this week, including the 32 children from Sacramento- and San Diego-area schools. The Biden administration has said an estimated 100-200 Americans were left behind.
Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin), who has sued the governor over his shutdown order and is one of the GOP candidates running to replace him, told supporters in an email: "Joe Biden is coming to campaign for Gavin Newsom. Imagine being so afraid of losing your job that you make the president stop doing his."
"Newsom begged Biden to fly out for a political rally," Kiley added. "That's his priority, even as California kids are trapped in Afghanistan."
Newsom's campaign hasn't responded to requests for comment in response to his opponents' criticisms.
The momentum for the recall campaign is building among people of all walks of life, Kiley argues. The recall effort has become "the greatest citizens' movement in California history," he said in a recent podcast interview.
The recall "isn't just about the standard political debates we usually have," Kiley said. "It's about something much more fundamental, which is the right of the people to have a government that represents them and that actually serves them. We don't have that. We have a state government that is broken and corrupted that serves special interests."
But Newsom "is likely to defeat the effort to remove him from office through next week's recall election," Newsweek reports, citing recent polls.
According to a Sept. 2 Public Policy Institute of California poll, 39% of those surveyed support the recall compared to 58% who oppose it. Elder lead the replacement candidates with the most votes, 26%.
A Sept. 1 poll conducted by the Trafalgar Group found that 44% surveyed support the recall, 52% oppose it. Elder lead the replacement candidates with a vote of 29%. Trafalgar (one of the few organizations to accurately measure the size of the Trump vote in pre-election polling) has conducted two public and three private polls on the recall and on various issues related to the recall over a period of eight weeks.
"From the very beginning, Newsom has recognized a quintessential truth: California is a Democrat state, and his biggest opponent was always apathy," Trafalgar Chief Pollster Robert Cahaly told Just The News. "Getting people to participate on his side in the recall is a hard thing to build energy for, since this isn't really an election that is going to be won on issues but instead turnout. It only makes sense for him to sound the alarm and get Biden and anybody else who they think will motivate Democrats to turn out."
Despite Biden's failure in Afghanistan or the risk of public gaffes, "Biden could help Newsom," Cahaly argues, "because this is not an election about who do you think will govern best, but are the checks going to keep coming or not. They've created a level of government dependence that is now in jeopardy if Newsom loses."
Trump 2020 campaign attorney Jenna Ellis, who recently won lawsuits against Newsom on behalf of churches, has endorsed Kiley for governor. She told Californians in a tweet not to believe the polls. "Ignore the polls saying Newsom is ahead," she said. "Just VOTE YES on the recall."
Jack Posiebac of One America News tweeted: "Newsom has been calling the White House in a panic. Sounds scared."
The recall election is the second in California's history. Since 1960, every California governor has faced a formal recall petition. However, only two petitions received enough certified signatures to trigger an election: one against Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, who was replaced by Republican actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the second against Newsom.
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