OAKLAND, Calif. — The White House publicly declared Tuesday that President Joe Biden opposes the effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom, signaling that the campaign is increasingly drawing national attention.
Given an opportunity to weigh in earlier in the day, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said she had “not spoken with the president about the recall” and said that the Biden administration was “closely engaged with [Newsom] and his office” on a range of issues. She was more forceful in a follow-up tweet.
“In addition to sharing a commitment to a range of issues with @GavinNewsom from addressing the climate crisis to getting the pandemic under control, @POTUS clearly opposes any effort to recall @GavinNewsom,” Psaki tweeted.
Newsom officials did not respond to queries about whether the California governor’s team had reached out to the Biden administration about taking a stance on the recall. Newsom had joined other governors for a coronavirus vaccine briefing earlier in the day.
The effort to oust Newsom has gone from a long-shot conservative dream to an imminent threat in recent weeks as organizers move closer to gathering the 1.5 million valid signatures they need by a mid-March deadline. Frustration with Newsom’s coronavirus management has fueled the recall push and eroded the Democratic governor’s approval rating in two polls released last week.
National donors, media outlets and political figures have taken notice. The recall effort has been a fixture on Fox News alongside criticism of Newsom’s pandemic restrictions.
While most of the campaign’s relatively skimpy budget has so far come from California donors, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee recently pitched in, joining prominent California supporters of former President Donald Trump. Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel weighed in last week, hinting that the national party could join the California Republican Party in supporting the push, though she cited an inaccurate approval rating far lower than the ones in last week’s polls.
Newsom has steadfastly refused to discuss the recall and he once again deflected a question on Tuesday by saying he was focused on battling the coronavirus. But California Democrats have mobilized to defend the governor and have repeatedly showered praise on Newsom at press conferences in recent weeks.
“I believe he has acted in good faith and with the best interests of Californians at heart. He has done nothing close to justify the recall campaign,” state Sen. Steve Glazer, a Democrat who has at times criticized Newsom for imposing strict enough coronavirus rules, said in a video posted to Twitter on Tuesday. He also urged Californians to reject signing on to the “distracting and destructive fool’s errand.”