Has Newsom given Democrats a glimpse of a younger, rugged alternative to Biden?

(Fox News)

Has Newsom given Democrats a glimpse of a younger, rugged alternative to Biden?

California Politics, Homepage News, Elections 2024

George Skelton

Dec. 2, 2023

A big question after Thursday night’s hyped red-versus-blue states debate is whether California’s governor will make a decision. Gavin Newsom will help or hurt President Biden.

Or maybe he has no influence on the president. Maybe Newsom is only helping himself. Or not.

To be sure, Newsom is locked in as a committed Biden surrogate, loyally defending the president and promoting his reelection. But are telegenic governors really making Democratic voters long for a younger, robust alternative to the weak-looking 81-year-old incumbent president?

How could it not?

And if so, it would certainly increase pressure from Democratic voters on the president to resign and not run again, as President Lyndon B. Johnson did in 1968 when he doubted his ability to get re-elected .

Biden appears to be fully committed to a second term. But it’s not unthinkable, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he decided he’d had enough.

If that were to happen, support for Newsom among Democrats would peak very quickly, longtime Democratic pollster Douglas Schoen told me Friday, the day after the Fox News debate between Newsom and the governor. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a struggling Republican presidential candidate.

You would see the Democratic Party elite rushing to Sacramento to persuade Gavin Newsom to join the presidential race.

I called Schoen after he issued a statement after the debate claiming that Newsom has established himself as a compelling, credible and aggressive advocate and future presidential candidate if Biden does not run or in 2028.

But didn’t the 56-year-old Newsom encourage physical comparisons between himself and Biden, increasing dissatisfaction with the sitting president? No, the pollster replied, because the vast majority of voters already believe there should be an alternative.

He said Newsom can promote Biden better than the president or Vice President Kamala Harris.

He helps Biden and himself, Schoen said. But make no mistake. His main reason for this is to establish himself on the national stage for 24 or 28 years.

Newsom was a breath of fresh air during the debate, he added. This was a pivotal moment on the national stage.

OK, that’s the opinion of respected national pollsters.

I came away thinking that if Newsom ever really wants to run for president, he should hire a speech coach to listen to and not interrupt.

Newsom is an articulate and passionate speaker with a mind full of well-organized data. But it can be wordy and repetitive. However, that was not his problem in the debate.

The Californian seriously hurt himself by regularly interrupting DeSantis, while the Floridian later committed the same sin. They talked incessantly about each other so intensely that no viewer could ever understand what they were saying.

Newsom sometimes sounded like a spoiled, rude rich child reminiscent of entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy in the Republican presidential debates. Well, not so bad.

But the fact that they repeatedly called each other liars and bullies exacerbated the rudeness. I’m not sure if I had young children or I would have wanted them to watch this show. Bad role models.

Fox host Sean Hannity unsuccessfully advocated for restrictions.

Yada yada yada. It was annoying to watch the two talk over each other like a shouting match and yell at each other, said Democratic strategist Steve Maviglio.

“It was terrible,” said Republican consultant Rob Stutzman. Their talking about each other really made it unwatchable.

It was sometimes hard to like any of those guys and think they were a potential presidential choice. Neither seemed a viable alternative.

At the end of the day, both [support] bases will be happy with it. But for the rest of Americans, have you seen something you like? Probably not.

Most of the rest of America was probably watching the NFL football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks.

The news media must have set a record for pre-debate hype. Presumably there was a consumer need for this, a reflection of how

boring Boring

Voters everywhere are looking to the current presidential candidates. There is a tension vacuum and a desire for new faces.

Newsom has consistently denied any interest in running next year. And he really doesn’t want that. The governor has privately told people that he would be seen as a party pariah if he ran against fellow Republican Harris, next in line if Biden were to drop out. He would certainly alienate black voters who the party cannot afford to lose in a close election.

But his name keeps popping up. DeSantis emphasized during the debate that Newsom is running a shadow campaign.

Professional oddsmakers have consistently rated Newsom as the third-best bet to win the presidency in 2024, behind only Biden and former President Trump. A sportsbook Thursday placed the odds of Trump winning at 40% and Biden at 37%, while Newsom was a distant 12%. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was at 9% and DeSantis was down to 5%.

A recent poll of American adults conducted by YouGov found that the debates could have potential benefits for Newsom, with more than a third of respondents not knowing enough about the governor to have an opinion of him. Among those who did, it was 27% favorable and 38% unfavorable.

So Newsom introduced himself to many non-Californians. Progressives probably liked what they saw. Conservatives were outraged. And many viewers changed the channel to football.

The debate I would like to see would take place between Newsom and Haley, without them rudely interrupting each other.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Hot Topics

Related Articles