WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden kicked off a visit to western states on Monday to hammer home his case on climate change and big investments, as well as to campaign in California's recall election.
The Democratic president headed to California, a party stronghold that he hasn't visited since his election, to support Governor Gavin Newsom, who is facing a referendum that could cost him his job.
Before hitting the Golden State, Biden will travel to Boise, Idaho, to visit a firefighting coordination center. He will then head to California capital Sacramento.
The final leg of his trip will take him to Denver, Colorado, where he will make the case for two bills he has proposed that would spend nearly $5 trillion over the coming decade to overhaul the nation's infrastructure, expand an array of social services and fight climate change.
The president is expected to reiterate what is becoming a familiar message on the urgency of tackling climate change and the disasters associated with it, including forest fires and storms -- both of which have devastated different areas of the country in recent months.
Forest fires have raged across the western United States this summer, including in states Biden will be visiting.
As of Sunday, the National Interagency Fire Center counted 80 large active fires in the country, including 22 in Idaho alone, involving more than 22,000 firefighters.
Biden, who has broken with the climate change skepticism of his predecessor Donald Trump, recently said the world faces a "code red" on climate change danger and called for parties to put aside their political differences to address the issue.
But in a step away from calls for bipartisan action, the president will enter the partisan arena during his trip, lending his support to California's governor at a last-minute campaign event in Long Beach.
Californians will vote Tuesday on whether to oust Newsom, 53, in a recall election prompted by Republicans angered over Covid-19 mask mandates, a high cost of living and skyrocketing homelessness in the wealthiest and most populous state in the nation.
Eighteen years ago, a similar vote allowed Arnold Schwarzenegger to win the governorship of California.
On paper, Newsom, a former mayor of San Francisco who was easily elected governor in 2018 and whose term does not end until next year, does not risk much in a solidly Democratic state.
But Democrats are still taking the vote seriously, knowing that a surprise recall is always possible, especially if the turnout is low. - AFP