Larry Elder: Look, give me a do-over on what I said about Biden having won the election fair and square

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

It says a lot about how perilous it is for a Republican candidate not to back Trump on his election claims that the leading GOP candidate *in California* would feel the need to walk back a brief affirmation of Biden’s legitimacy. Especially when Gavin Newsom is hammering him for being more right-wing than Trump is. That’s a brand Elder should want to run away from in a deep blue state. And which he has, or had, been running away from.

Maybe he saw some polling suggesting he had more to lose by alienating Trumpers than he had to gain by pandering to Democrats. How many California Dems are likely to vote for a conservative as staunch as Larry Elder in the first place? What he needs to do is maximize his support among Republicans to keep turnout up. Sounding iffy about the election was a problem in that regard, especially after Jenna Ellis called MAGA’s attention on Twitter to what Elder said.

So it’s clean-up time. Click the arrow to play.

Why does he need a “mulligan” on his own opinion?

He doesn’t. He needs a mulligan on his assumption that California Republicans would let him slide and turn out for him anyway after he sided with Biden on the election’s integrity. He’s been disabused of that notion somehow and so this is his version of a compromise. He’s not going in on “Dominion rigged the election” craziness but he’ll humor MAGA fans by citing “softer” grievances about the election — pandemic-era rules that facilitated mail-in votes, the social-media suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story, and so on. Biden didn’t cheat in Elder’s telling but he had all sorts of institutional thumbs on the scale to help him. Is that good enough to soothe Trumpers’ feelings?

Probably. But in case not, he also tries to spin the insurrection for them. Sure, Trump didn’t concede, but did Hillary really concede in 2016 when she doesn’t use the word “concession”? (Uh, yes.) Wouldn’t there have been an insurrection at the Capitol if Hillary were the sitting president when she questioned the fairness of Trump’s win? Well … maybe. But again, Hillary did concede. And we did in fact have a Democratic president when Trump’s victory was certified in 2017. And no Democrats broke into the Capitol chanting “Hang Joe Biden!” that day because Biden wouldn’t block certification.

Anyway, Elder has good reason to tell Trumpers what they want to hear. The chances of him becoming the next governor of California are very real, especially if righties turn out. And it looks like they will.

He also made a smart move lately in declaring that he’ll repeal California’s mask (and vaccine) mandates, as that’ll earn him a boost of Republican enthusiasm. He really doesn’t need any Democratic support to win. All he needs is for Democratic voters to be sufficiently lukewarm about Newsom that they don’t send in their ballots.

I’ll leave you with this vignette about the problem a Republican candidate faces when his pro-Trump credentials aren’t impeccable.