Newsom's progressive activism, debate skills among vulnerabilities in potential national campaign: expert


While Gavin Newsom is being floated as a potential replacement should President Biden drop out of the 2024 presidential race, the liberal governor may not be the strongest candidate to take on former President Trump, a California political observer tells Fox News Digital.

Newsom may be popular among Democratic leaders and the progressive caucus for the Golden State’s liberal policies, but it’s unclear how popular he would be on a nationwide ticket. In his own state, Republicans have railed against the governor’s policies on the economy, homelessness and crime. 

“Nevertheless, his popularity even here in California is sliding, with one recent poll showing that a majority of voters think the state is headed in the wrong direction,” California Policy Center president William Swaim told Fox News Digital. 

“And he doesn’t seem to have captured the national party’s enthusiasm as anything more than a Biden surrogate,” Swaim added. “There’s this important strategic consideration for Democrats: Newsom brings nothing to a national ticket.”

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President Biden and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (Getty Images)

Regardless of which Democrat runs for president, California’s electoral votes will go to the Democrats, Swaim said, but if Democrats turned to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer or Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro to top the presidential ticket, they could potentially win over their respective and very crucial swing states in November.

Last year, Newsom debated Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hosted by Fox News’ Sean Hannity. The two governors particularly exchanged blows over their states’ different approaches to taxes and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic

However, in a debate with Trump, “he might persuade undecideds who don’t follow California politics that he’s worked miracles here.”

“And like Trump, he’s a clever debater, a counterpuncher who shifts any attack onto more hospitable terrain and then simply makes stuff up on the fly,” Swaim said. “That’s a real skill – diabolical but effective with low-information voters. You saw this in his televised debate with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis: in one instance, he accused DeSantis of lying California has the nation’s highest taxes. We all know the truth, and in May, Newsom admitted the truth and said the state has the highest taxes in the nation.”

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Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower, May 30, 2024 after being found guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. (Felipe Ramales for Fox News Digital)

Nonetheless, all eyes are on his purported shadow campaign, despite Newsom’s fervent assertion that he supports the Biden-Harris ticket. 

“I will never turn my back on President Biden,” Newsom said on Thursday in a comment that appeared designed to dispel rumors that he’s running a shadow campaign. “I don’t know a Democrat in my party that would do so. And especially after tonight, we have his back.”

Newsom added: “I spent a lot of time with him. I know Joe Biden. I know what he’s accomplished in the last three and a half years. I know what he’s capable of. And I have no trepidations.”

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks to reporters after the debate between President Biden and former President Trump in Atlanta, Thursday, June 27, 2024. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Newsom is also headed to New Hampshire to headline a Democratic campaign event just days after the Biden-Trump presidential debate, fueling more speculation that he may be preparing to step in if Biden backs out of the 2024 race. 

The July 8 event, called the “Blue Summer Campaign Kick-Off,” is being spearheaded by the New Hampshire House and Senate Democrats.

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New Hampshire is a key swing state in the general election and Newsom, who is a top surrogate for Biden’s 2024 re-election campaign, will also be campaigning for the president and other Democrats up and down the ticket during his stop in the Granite State, according to sources familiar with his plans.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

Fox News Digital’s Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.



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