Newsom shifts into defense mode as California recall takes shape

In the past eight days, Newsom has held news conferences touting mass vaccination clinics in Oakland, San Diego, Santa Clara and Fresno. Apart from two budget briefings, for the first time since March, he opened access Tuesday to all media in person, rather than relying on a pool reporter or taking questions only through a tightly controlled virtual news conference…

After spending a few weeks curtailing public appearances and dropping a budget announcement on TikTok, Newsom has reversed course with campaign-style events where he is trying to control the narrative. If the recall qualifies, the governor could find himself in campaign mode for the next two years while trying to navigate the state through crisis, spending this year trying to save his job and next year running for reelection should he survive.

Newsom, 53, is facing an unexpected California backlash as residents tire of stringent business restrictions and school closures. The state saw an unprecedented winter Covid-19 surge that filled hospitals beyond capacity, while California this week surpassed New York as the nation’s leader in coronavirus deaths at nearly 45,000, though its population-based rate is still lower than in most states.