Calif. Recall Candidate Larry Elder on Right-Wing Critics Taking Quote Out of Context: 'Pisses Me Off'

When libertarian talk-show host Larry Elder announced a month ago he had joined a long list of candidates hoping to replace California Governor Gavin Newsom should he be recalled in a September 14 special election, he immediately rocketed to the top of polls. Now, though, some conservatives are turning on him for saying that Joe Biden won the presidency "fairly and squarely."

Elder made the off-the-cuff remark during a 53-minute recorded interview with newspaper opinion editors where he answered myriad questions, but some viewers whittled it down to just the 23 seconds where he is asked about the integrity of the November presidential election.

"I do believe Joe Biden won the election fairly and squarely, but…" he says in the hastily clipped version of the video making the rounds on social media.

Elder was engaging is some damage control via Twitter on Wednesday, and he tells Newsweek that he didn't exactly mean what he said during the video interview.

"Do I believe that Biden won the election fair and square? No, I do not," Elder told Newsweek, emphasizing that he has written many columns for Townhall.com and others and spent hours of radio airtime discussing "voting irregularities and the unfair way the media characterized Donald Trump's objection to the 2020 election."

Elder said he gave his abbreviated "fairly and squarely" comment simply "to move the hostile interview along, because it had nothing to do with the California recall issues: crime, homelessness, the rising cost of living in California, water shortages, rolling brownouts, forests on fire and the hypocritical way Gavin Newsom shut down the state while allowing his own kids to enjoy in-person, private education."

Newsom was unavailable to respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

Elder, in fact, went on for several minutes after saying "fairly and squarely, but ..." though his right-wing detractors aren't including what he said, which includes that more Democrats (78 percent, according to a recent poll) believe that Trump stole the 2016 election from Hillary Clinton than Republicans (76 percent) believe that Biden stole the election from Trump in 2020.

Elder was taking the most heat for his "fairly and squarely" remark from Jenna Ellis, a former legal adviser to Trump who has 895,000 Twitter followers, about 75,000 fewer than Elder.

"There are a dozen different ways he could have answered this without intentionally disaffecting voters concerned about election integrity," Ellis wrote in a tweet Tuesday that included the allegedly damaging 23-second clip of the interview. In another, she wrote: "This could cost @larryelder a lot of votes in California. I fully disagree with his comments here and he was clearly poorly advised."

"She went ballistic over what I said," Elder told Newsweek. "Never mind my body of work both in print and on radio where I expressed extreme skepticism about the fairness of the 2020 election. This is the kind of zero tolerance that induces people like me to not to want to go into politics."

Even Juanita Broaddrick, a woman Elder has stuck up for on his radio show for years as many on the left attacked her for alleging she was raped by Bill Clinton prior to his presidency, responded to Elder's "fairly and squarely" comment with a tweet reading: "WTF."

"I say one thing that some Republicans think is not true blue, and I'm a 'son of a bitch'... pisses me off," Elder told Newsweek after issuing a string of tweets quoting himself from a January 7 opinion article in Jewish World Review in which he outlined "questions about voter irregularities, mathematical improbabilities, questionable extensions of ballot deadlines and unsolicited ballots" during the last presidential election.

During his Wednesday interview with Newsweek, Elder also weighed in on the Los Angeles City Council's vote to prepare an ordinance mandating that citizens who are not vaccinated not be allowed in public places like restaurants, movie theaters and concert venues.

"The vaccine mandate is ridiculous," he told Newsweek. "Thomas Jefferson warned against trading freedom for public safety. Everybody in California who wants a vaccine can get one, and poor people can get it for free. Some people have made a decision they do not want it. As for Democrats who are angry about their decision, look in the mirror. Who was it who said if Donald Trump suggested taking the vaccine, they would not trust him? Biden and Kamala Harris."

Larry Elder leads poll
Radio personality Larry Elder is leading among the recall candidates challenging California Governor Gavin Newsom, according to a new poll released Wednesday evening. Above, Elder is photographed accepting his star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame on April 27, 2015 in Hollywood, California. Tommaso Boddi/WireImage