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Kamala Harris Headlines California Rally As Democrats Link Recall To National Battles

Carolyn Kaster
AP Photo
Vice President Kamala Harris waves with California Gov. Gavin Newsom during a campaign event at the IBEW-NECA Joint Apprenticeship Training Center in San Leandro, Calif., Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021.

Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Bay Area on Wednesday to campaign for Gov. Gavin Newsom in the waning days of California’s gubernatorial recall election.

Harris flew from Washington, D.C., to join Newsom and a group of other elected Democrats in her East Bay stomping grounds to urge a “no” vote on the September 14 vote. The vice president and other speakers tried to link the election to national issues such as voting rights and abortion access.

“This recall campaign is about California and it’s about a whole lot more,” Harris told a crowd of union members and Democratic volunteers gathered outside a San Leandro vocational school, which trains people for careers in the clean energy sector.

“They wouldn't be trying to recall him but for the fact that he has always stood for reproductive rights,” along with protections for immigrants and labor unions and access to health care, she said. “These are the issues that are at play.”

Democratic speakers warned the outcome of California’s recall would have national implications and set the tone for the 2022 midterms.

“This election is one of the most important of our lifetimes,” said East Bay Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “I know we all said that last year when we voted Donald Trump out of office. But yes, the stakes here in California are just as high because Republicans have made California their next target.”

The vice president echoed that message, saying recall supporters believe “if they can win in California, they can do this anywhere,” she said. “We’re going to show them. You’re not going to get this done. Not here!”

Harris, who worked with Newsom at the state and in San Francisco government, also spoke about the governor on a personal level. She contrasted the governor’s leadership style with that of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, whom she criticized for recent comments about rape survivors their access to abortion under a state law that recently went into effect.

The vice president said Abbott’s words were “fueled with not only arrogance but bravado. That is not who we want in our leaders. We want in our leaders someone like Gavin Newsom who always speaks the truth on behalf of all the people in a way that is about uplifting.”

Newsom went on the offensive against conservative talk show host Larry Elder, the leading candidate to replace him. Elder has come under fire for past comments made about women and workers’ rights, which the governor sought to capitalize on.

“He doesn't believe there's a glass ceiling,” Newsom said. “Tell that to Kamala Harris, who did shatter the glass ceiling for Vice President of the United States.”

“That's what we're up against California,” he said. “You can’t make this stuff up.”

Many Democrats are concerned a Republican governor would have the opportunity to appoint a successor for Sen. Dianne Feinstein if the longtime senator fell ill. Newsom, who appointed a replacement for Harris earlier this year, said a Republican appointment would have complicated Democratic priorities in Congress.

“Would there have been that last stimulus? Would there be Majority Leader Chuck Schumer?” he said.

“That's what's at stake” in the recall, he said. “You have the opportunity to determine the fate and future of this state and I would argue … the fate and future of the United States of America. This is a consequential election.”

The California Republican Party attacked Harris for flying across the country to campaign for her home state’s embattled governor.

“It is both pathetic and telling that Vice President Harris and Governor Newsom think political campaigning is a better use of time today than working to rescue the California children and families, Americans and allies who were abandoned in Afghanistan by the Biden Administration,” party chairwoman Jessican Millan Patterson wrote in a statement.

Early polls suggested the race would be closer than expected in deep-blue California due to Republican enthusiasm, though recent polls and ballot return data suggest the governor will overcome the recall. Every active voter was mailed a ballot for the election. Voting ends September 14.