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Democrats make vaccine mandates their closing issue in California recall

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
California Governor Newsom Meets With Bay Area AAPI Leaders
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked the federal government for permission to use tax dollars to pay for "contingency management" through Medicaid.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — With one week to go until California’s gubernatorial recall, the closing message from Gov. Gavin Newsom and his Democratic allies has been on the coronavirus, vaccines and a vaccine mandate.

And also on how Republicans would govern during the pandemic if Newsom is recalled.

“Here's what you need to know about the Sept. 14 recall: Voting ‘yes’ elects an anti-vaccine Trump Republican,” goes a recent ad from the main pro-Newsom advertiser in the recall, apparently referring to Republican replacement frontrunner Larry Elder. “Voting ‘no’ keeps Gavin Newsom fighting the pandemic based on science, compassion and common sense.”

The ad concludes, “And here's the thing: If you don't vote, we could have an anti-vax Republican governor of California. So do your part to stop the spread."

(For the record, Elder is vaccinated; he believes the decision to vaccinate should be left to individuals and parents.)

An earlier pro-Newsom ad leaned into a similar message: “With Delta surging, Gavin Newsom is protecting California, requiring vaccinations for health workers and school employees. The top Republican candidate? He peddled deadly conspiracy theories and would eliminate vaccine mandates on Day 1.”

It’s a bit ironic: The issue that helped propel the recall against Newsom (the governor’s earlier handling of the pandemic) could end up helping him win next week (by contrasting how Republicans would handle the pandemic).

And by the way, in Virginia, Democrat Terry McAuliffe is making pretty much the same argument in his gubernatorial race against Republican Glenn Youngkin.

“Youngkin opposes requiring vaccines for health care workers and teachers… Glenn Youngkin is against requiring masks in schools,” goes the latest McAuliffe ad.

In blue states at least, Democrats are playing up vaccines, masks and mandates.

Tweet of the day

Biden heads to New Jersey and New York

Today, President Biden tours the damage from Hurricane Ida — first in Manville, N.J., and later in Queens, N.Y.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

Fewer than 500,000: The number of people still without power in Louisiana as of 6 p.m. on Monday, more than a week after Hurricane Ida hit.

About 600: The number of people evacuated from eight privately run senior centers in New Orleans on Saturday for having unacceptable conditions after the storm.

6 days: How long it took America to hit 40 million Covid cases after it surpassed 39 million.

160: The percent change between the number of Covid hospitalizations in America on Labor Day of 2020 and Labor Day 2021, despite the widespread availability of vaccines, per data from the Washington Post.

40,147,863: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials.

653,222: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Nearly 20 years after being toppled by American forces, the Taliban says they’re poised to unveil the new government of Afghanistan.

More Republican state lawmakers are beginning to embrace attempts to investigate the 2020 election results in their state.

The president of Human Rights Campaign was fired Monday after a report found he tried to help discredit an accuser of former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The Wall Street Journal looks at the process of approving the Covid vaccine for children.

First Lady Jill Biden is returning to the classroom.