California Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom hit the road over the July 4th holiday weekend, telling the group of roughly 50 Democrats gathered in the backyard of a mansion in the foothills of Boise, Idaho, Saturday to make the “powerful case for why we should be passionate, enthusiastic about Biden’s reelection.”
Newsom contends that in states like Idaho, where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by more than 4 to 1, and laws are being enacted to restrict gay rights, abortion and advance other pillars of the GOP agenda, only President Joe Biden can be trusted to turn the tide.
The aging president has used his years in office to fight aggressively for Democratic priorities, according to Newsom, including gun control, clean energy, and LGBTQ+ rights while rebuilding the U.S. economy post-Covid and keeping democracy afloat.
“I’m really proud of this president, and I hope you are as well,” said Newsome to the crowd.
Many Democrats who flocked to hear the governor speak in Idaho and at a separate fundraising event earlier in Bend, Oregon, said they thought the younger Newsom offered a glimpse of the party’s future.
“He looks like an incredible presidential candidate,” said Idaho Democratic Party trustee Russ Buschert.
Newsom continues to claim he has no interest in the White House and that his travels across the country are to promote the party and president before the 2024 election.
However, according to Republican consultant Rob Stutzman, his public feuding with Republicans fills a “void” in his party. It sends a message that he’s a Democrat unafraid and willing to take on the MAGA wing of the GOP. This crusade helps elevate Governor Newsom’s national profile and build a database of supporters.
“He’s putting in time and effort that no one else outside the White House appears to be,” said Stutzman. “He’s acting like the candidate in waiting. Someday it may pay off for him.”
The swing through GOP-led states allows the California governor to remind Democrats how important they are in fighting back against what he described as Republican-led “rights regression.”
“You think Trump if he gets back into office, is not going to demand a third term? Give me a break,” said Newsom. “You think January 6 is the last we are going to see…Give me a break.”
Newsom’s dip into the national political arena continues to evolve
Governor Newsom’s foray deeper into the national political arena had continued to evolve since last year when he tore into his party for not being aggressive enough in the face of GOP victories on the state, national and local level, including at the United States Supreme Court.
“I’m just trying to move from lament and critique to action and responsibility,” said Newsom. “No one wants to hear a critic. What are you going to do? And I had to answer the ‘what am I going to do’ question.”
“I’m trying to build something,” said Newsom. “But I’m trying to be complementary of the work that’s already being done.”
In a statement, Idaho Republican Party Chairwoman Dorothy Moon was critical of Newsom, saying, “California’s far-left governor came to Boise to raise money for Idaho Democrats…and to export his litany of failed policies, including skyrocketing housing costs. People are fleeing California in droves because they don’t want to live as serfs in Prince Gavin’s kingdom. I’m pretty sure his visit here to normal America violates some kind of California travel restriction.”
Chairwoman of the California Republican Party Jessica Millan Patterson said the struggles of the state should “serve as a warning to the rest of the nation.”
“While Newsom runs a shadow presidential campaign, it’s increasingly clear he wants to take his failures from his own state straight to the White House,” said Millan Patterson in a statement. “You don’t want what Gavin Newsom’s selling.”
Newsom dismissed the criticism as a distraction and tired Republican talking points from the cultural issues that underlie his trip.
“I’m not giving a California stump speech, never have in any of the red states I’ve been to,” said Newsom, adding that his assignment isn’t a “Visit California” campaign. “That’s not what this is about. I talk about the Democratic Party and our values, and I think there’s a lot to brag about in that respect.”
For now, Newsom is shrugging off any talks of the presidency and sticking to campaigning for President Biden. “I guess I should be humbled by that,” said Newsom. “But that’s not why I’m here.”