President Joe Biden congratulated California Gov. Gavin Newsom on his victory in the recall election, saying it was a “resounding win” for the policies both Democratic leaders have pushed to control the coronavirus pandemic.
The effort to recall Newsom failed on Tuesday, with nearly 64 percent of California voters opposing it, according to the latest tally.
“Congratulations to Governor Gavin Newsom on defeating the recall vote,” Biden said in a statement released Wednesday. “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.”
The White House held up Newsom’s decisive win in the recall election as evidence that aggressive efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, which Republicans have criticized as government overreach, are widely backed by much of the public.
“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,” Biden said in his statement.
Biden spoke out strongly against the recall at a rally on the eve of the election in which he cast Newsom’s top competitor, Republican talk radio host Larry Elder, as a “clone” of former President Donald Trump.
Vice President Kamala Harris also campaigned for Newsom in California in the homestretch of the recall election.
“The pandemic has reminded us who we can count on, and Californians know they can count on Governor Newsom. He is focused on beating back COVID-19, and helping the state make a big comeback,” Harris said in a statement that congratulated Newsom.
Harris drew a line between the elections results and restrictions on abortion and voting access in states such as Texas. She had urged California voters at a campaign rally last week to use the recall vote to send a national message on those issues.
“In resoundingly rejecting this recall attempt, California’s voters made it clear that the American people want leaders who stand for women’s rights, voting rights, and workers’ rights,” Harris said in her statement.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing on Wednesday that she expected Biden would speak with Newsom later in the day or in the near future.
Psaki told reporters at the White House that Newsom had been “one of the leading governors” in taking steps to protect and vaccinate people against the coronavirus.
“This was a resounding victory for Gov. Newsom, but also for a science-based approach to fighting the pandemic for vaccines, for testing, for steps that will protect more people and save more lives,” she said. “And there’s extensive data from last night that shows that Californians were overwhelmingly in favor of a leader who’s willing to take strong steps to defeat COVID and get the economy up and running.”