2020 Elections

Newsom finally endorses Biden at virtual campaign event for top-dollar donors

The California governor, who previously endorsed Sen. Kamala Harris, had yet to formally throw his support behind Biden.

Gavin Newsom

SAN FRANCISCO — Saying America is desperately in need of healing and "a sense of hopefulness" during the Covid-19 pandemic, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday formally endorsed Joe Biden as the Democratic candidate who can "bring people together and unite this nation."

“I'm so honored to be here with you and supporting your presidency,’’ Newsom told Biden as he starred at a virtual campaign event for the former vice president where tickets went for as high as $100,000. "I just couldn't be more proud of you, and the prospect of your presidency."

“You’re willing to reach out to people — never talk down to people, regardless of their political stripes regardless, their lot in life,’’ Newsom told Biden on the Zoom call with hundreds of deep-pocketed Democratic donors. “That's about character. It's about decency. It's about honor.”

“You get it, and you've gotten it done over the course of decades,’’ Newsom told Biden. “You've been on the front lines of fighting against poverty, ignorance and disease. You have a deep compassion and empathy, you see the world from other people's eyes.’’

Biden appeared emotional at the end of Newsom's address. "Gov, if I get elected, I'm going to need you badly,'' Biden responded.

Newsom’s comments came during his star turn at the fundraiser where tickets went for the kind of price only commanded by top surrogates like former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Tickets were also available for $25,000 at the “co-host,’’ level, as well as $5,600 “champion,” $2,800 “sponsor,” $1000 “advocate” and $500 “supporter” levels. Some 745 people were on the call.

The California governor’s appearance was part of a conversation with Democratic strategist David Plouffe, who lives in San Francisco.

Until Friday, Newsom — who had earlier endorsed Sen. Kamala Harris for president — hadn’t yet formally endorsed the former vice president. And he recently sidestepped questions from reporters about whether he would make a formal endorsement of Biden, saying he has been focused on his response to the Covid-19 crisis.

But his high-profile appearance on Biden's behalf signals that the vice president's team may now be relying on Newsom, who heads the nation’s most populous state and a Democratic ATM, to be a front-and-center surrogate in the 2020 election.

At the event, Newsom also addressed an executive order he signed Friday making California the first state amid the Covid-19 crisis to provide universal mail-in ballots to every voter in the state for the November election. He noted that those who want to vote in person may do so, but said, “I hope that will inspire others across the country ... including red states’’ to also expand mail-in voting.

Biden praised Newsom on the ballot action, saying, “You haven’t just shown extraordinary leadership ... you’re also protecting the cornerstone of our democracy, the right to vote. I’m so glad I’m on your team, man"

Saying the move could have far-reaching effects, Biden said polls show “registered Republications think it’s the government’s responsibility to provide this mail-in voting."

“What the governor did today makes a lot of sense for their states as well,” he added.

Biden also addressed the latest economic figures, saying that America on Friday “received the worst jobs report in our nation's history, 20.5 million jobs lost last month, 14.7 percent unemployment, and the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression.”

“God knows how many family members whose lives have been upended, their dreams destroyed ... going to bed at night staring at the ceiling wondering, 'My God, how am I going to get through this?'’’ Biden said.

“And here's the tragedy, it didn't have to be this way,’’ Biden said. “Donald Trump ignored all the warnings, he refused to prepare and failed to protect our nation. Not just recently but throughout his presidency.”

“Covid is the match that lit the fire. But Donald Trump has spent the last three years stoking and kindling and undermining the core pillars of our economic strength," he added.

The fundraiser came days after the Trump campaign released an online campaign ad that features a recent clip of Newsom saying "promise made, promise kept" about Trump delivering coronavirus test materials — echoing the tag line from the Republican's reelection campaign.

A recent poll by researchers at Harvard, Northeastern and Rutgers Universities showed Newsom to be one of the nation's most popular governors with more than twice the job approval rating of Trump, at 71-34 percent.

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