California Gov. Gavin Newsom endorsed Joe Biden for president on Friday, saying he was “enlivened” by his candidacy as he headlined a virtual fundraiser for the presumptive Democratic nominee.
“This is a unique moment in time and unique moment in our history, and we’re uniquely grateful to you,” Newsom said, praising Biden’s record on issues such as poverty and character traits such as his empathy. “I just couldn’t be more proud of you, and the prospect of your presidency.”
The move was entirely unsurprising given that Newsom is a Democrat. Yet as recently as mid-April, Newsom, who backed Sen. Kamala Harris until she ended her presidential bid, demurred when asked about his support of the former vice president. That came as his national profile grew because of his handling of the coronavirus crisis and he was trying to cajole President Trump and his administration into providing aid for California.
Newsom’s words about the Republican president were so fawning they were featured in a digital ad put out by Trump’s reelection campaign.
Friday’s Zoom fundraiser, moderated by former Barack Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, was the first high-dollar fundraiser of Biden’s campaign. Tickets went for up to $100,000, and more than 700 people took part.
(Until recently, Biden was raising money at the federal maximum of $5,600 per donor. But now that he is the presumptive nominee and has formed a joint fundraising committee with the Democratic National Committee, the former vice president can accept six-figure checks. The president has been able to raise money at these higher limits since he took office, affording him an enormous fundraising advantage over Biden.)
Biden responded to Newsom by saying, “Gov, if I get elected, I’m going to need you badly.”
Biden also praised Newsom for signing an executive order on Friday to send every California voter a mail-in ballot for the November election because of the coronavirus crisis.
“Gavin, you’ve done one helluva job, and thank you for your support and your leadership,” Biden said. “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.”
Trump’s campaign said Newsom’s decision could lead to vote fraud.
“This is a thinly veiled political tactic by Gov. Newsom to undermine election security,” said spokesman Tim Murtaugh. “There’s a vast difference between people voting absentee by mail because they can’t be at the polls on election day versus mailing everyone a ballot. Sending everyone a ballot — even those who didn’t request one — is a wide-open opportunity for fraud.”