California Gov. Gavin Newsom might have recently said he has no interest in challenging Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination; however, he has risen in prominence nationally in recent months. Many are saying he could either become a substitute for Biden should he reconsider his decision to seek a second term or a major contender for the Democratic nomination in 2028.
Newsom’s presence at the Republican primary debate on Wednesday night stands as a reminder of his rising importance among Democrats. He attended the debate as an attack dog for Joe Biden, taking on Fox News host Sean Hannity.
“This is maybe a vice presidential debate. These guys are getting lapped by Donald Trump. It’s not even close. It’s not even interesting,” Newsom said before the debate according to the Los Angeles Times. “I enjoy defending our values and freedom. I enjoy defending democracy. I enjoy exposing the hypocrisy of the other side, that claims freedom and yet they’re denying young women the right to reproductive care.”
He noted that the candidates have done little to make headway against former President Donald Trump. Gavin Newsom has adopted a pugilistic strategy against Republicans and has appeared on Fox News, unlike other Democrats.
Gavin Newsom Reinvents His Image
He has managed to reinvent himself from being an unpopular governor who narrowly survived a recall election two years ago and who has been panned for his handling of California’s homelessness crisis into a major force.
“It works to their mutual benefit,” said John Pitney, a professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College. “Biden takes a potential party critic and turns him into an ally, and Newsom gets abundant national exposure. So it’s a win-win.”
Newsom has worked closely with Biden’s team to stay on message including before his appearance on Hannity’s program in June. Biden put Newsom on his team of campaign surrogates to argue on his behalf on national television.
Newsom v. DeSantis: A Clash of Visions
His announced debate with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, in which he mocked his opponent’s motivation for debating him during an interview with Fox 11 in Los Angeles.
“Why is he doing it? I think I am not sure after tonight. He is currently running for president of the United States. The fact that he took this debate. The fact that he took the bait in relation to this debate shows that he is a perfectly unqualified person,” Newsom said.
DeSantis likely sees it as an opportunity to debate rival visions for America. These visions are ones that he sees himself and Newsom fighting over in the next generation after Trump and Biden are long gone from the national stage.
Newsom has denounced DeSantis as a “right-wing bully” due to his policies against promoting homosexuality and transgenderism in Florida’s public schools. He also has been a major spokesman for abortion rights in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.
Newsom Being Groomed as Biden’s Heir
“At this point, Biden is looking to cozy up to just about any prominent Democrat who will go on the record lavishly praising him, including Newsom. In terms of the electoral math, Newsom doesn’t offer much to Biden given his already mortal lock on progressive California. However, what he does offer is much-needed pushback to a growing chorus of leaders in the Democrat party who seem to be expressing more reservations about…Biden’s bid for the White House,” Thomas Gift, an associate professor who leads the Centre on U.S. Politics at King’s College London, told Newsweek. “One wouldn’t be surprised if, in exchange, Newsom were offered a high-profile spot at the nominating convention or some other pat-me-on-the-back gift, which could help tee up his likely 2028 run.”
John Rossomando is a defense and counterterrorism analyst and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, The National Interest, National Review Online, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award for his reporting.