Gavin Newsom once again tamps down speculation that he will run for president in 2024

‘I think we need to move past’ notion that Biden is stepping aside, says California governor

John Bowden
Washington DC
Saturday 09 September 2023 19:02 BST
Gavin Newsom proposes Constitutional amendment for gun reform

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Louise Thomas

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California governor Gavin Newsom is offering reporters and critics of Joe Biden a reality check in terms of the 2024 election.

Mr Newsom was speaking to the Today show for an interview when he was once again presented with murmurs that he could enter the race for president. Many in the media have speculated that the governor would launch his own bid if the incumbent president, Joe Biden, 80, reconsidered his decision to stand for another four years.

The governor responded by pointing out that the structure of the presidential campaign cycle meant that any Democrat jumping into the race now would be at a significant disadvantage.

“I think the vice president is naturally the one lined up, and the filing deadlines are quickly coming to pass, and I think we need to move past this notion that he’s not going to run,” Mr Newsom said in the interview.

He’s not wrong about the filing deadlines: The earliest hard deadline is coming up on 16 October, when the state of Nevada will cease accepting major-party entrants for the 2024 caucuses. Other states have deadlines throughout November; were Mr Newsom or another Democrat to decide to run after those deadlines, they could be locked out of receiving delegates from those primaries simply because they weren’t on the ballot.

As it stands, only two semi-prominent Democrats are campaigning against Mr Biden for the Democratic nomination — author Marianne Williamson and Robert F Kennedy Jr, a conspiracy theorist whose biggest supporters are on the Trumpworld right.

Mr Biden is the wide favourite to win every Democratic primary and caucus in 2024 as it stands. The Democratic National Committee (DNC), with little incentive to endanger an incumbent, has scheduled no debates for the 2024 cycle. Mr Biden’s challengers and a handful of others have protested that decision, but to no avail.

Most polling of the 2024 race shows Mr Biden neck-and-neck with Donald Trump, the four-times-indicted former president who was defeated by Mr Biden in 2020. Surveys of key swing states like Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania all show Mr Biden within the margin of error or even slightly ahead, however, giving him a possible edge in the Electoral College.

In California, Mr Newsom has built a reputation for himself as a champion of left-leaning policies including strong reforms on gun ownership and availability in America, while also using his sizable war chest to build alliances with Democrats around the country. That all has contributed to speculation that the governor has national ambitions, though he has long denied any desire to challenge Mr Biden.

He has even taken the rare step of accepting a challenge to debate Ron DeSantis, a 2024 presidential candidate and the biggest rival to Donald Trump for the Republican nomination. A matchup between the two would come as Mr DeSantis was unable to secure that same opportunity to take on Mr Trump, thanks to the latter’s refusal to attend the 2024 debates.

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