If someone wanted to find a California politician who is more crooked, conniving, and self-serving than former senator and current Vice President Kamala Harris, you could do worse than turning your attention to the Golden State’s chief executive, Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom.
Newsom is well known in these pages for his draconian COVID lockdown policies during the coronavirus pandemic, which only served to highlight his hypocrisy when he didn’t bother to abide by them himself. This is in addition to his slavish advocacy for pro-abortion and anti-gun legislation — both at the state and federal levels. Don’t forget that he has doubled down on calling for a new, 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which, as my colleague Matt Dempsey wrote, “would completely gut the Second Amendment as we know it.” So, far, he’s managed to push it into consideration by a California state Senate committee.
Beyond those dangerous and wrongheaded policy prescriptions (among others; find them in the links at the end), he’s possibly going to debate 2024 Republican presidential candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. It seems the California governor might be trying to walk back his request, though. No one really knows why Newsom even suggested it, but it’s part of the bizarre political landscape we find ourselves in heading into the general election.
Maybe some of the answers will come this weekend. NBC News’ “Meet the Press” invited Newsom to sit down for an interview, which will air in full on Sunday. As my colleague Bob Hoge reported in June, this will be moderator Chuck Todd’s final episode as the show’s moderator. So far, the network has released a snippet in advance, and there are some mighty interesting tidbits in it — including his making news about whether he’s mulling a 2024 presidential run.
But before we get to that, here is Todd asking Newsom what he thinks “another four years of Donald Trump” in the White House “would look like”:
WATCH: California Gov. Gavin Newsom tells @chucktodd that he thinks Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is “functionally authoritarian,” but he’s more worried about former President Trump.@GavinNewsom: “I think the vengeance in Donald Trump’s heart right now is more of a threat.” pic.twitter.com/lWgBug8XFO
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) September 8, 2023
That’s not exactly what Newsom says, as you can hear in the video. He slams DeSantis both directly and indirectly, by saying that “Trumpism” (he means conservatives here, not just Trump supporters) is more dangerous than anything. Of course, he trots out the ominous narrative that Democracy is in peril if any Republican wins the White House. It’s only at the end that he shares his alleged insights into what’s in Trump’s heart, which is frankly pretty creepy.
The largest part of the preview, though, is on whether he would run for the 2024 Democrat nomination, or challenge Harris for it — should Biden, for whatever reason, not run for reelection:
CHUCK TODD: Filing deadlines haven’t passed. President Biden doesn’t run, why shouldn’t we consider you a likely candidate?
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM: Well, 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. President Biden is going to run, and looking forward to getting him reelected. I think there’s been so much wallowing in the last few months, and handwringing in this respect. But we’re gearing up for the campaign. We’re looking forward to it.
CHUCK TODD: I understand –you know, but you hear these calls privately. What do you tell these donors who are wallowing in this?
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM: Time to move on. Let’s go.
CHUCK TODD: And am I supposed to interpret that comment about the vice president that if for some reason the president chose not to run at this point –
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM: Well it’s the natural –
CHUCK TODD: – everybody rallies around her?
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM: It’s the Biden-Harris administration. Maybe I’m a little old-fashioned –
CHUCK TODD: And you respect that?
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM: Maybe I’m a little old-fashioned about, you know, presidents and vice presidents. I was a lieutenant governor, so I’m a little subjective.
I think Newsom has definitively put to bed any notion that he’s running for president here, with that smart follow-up question by Todd about Harris. But with Newsom, you have to take whatever he says with a grain of salt. Even so, I think his posturing in recent months has been misread — and now it’s clear why.
Anyone with a dash of cynicism must ask themselves about any politician: What’s in it for him or her? Let’s mull over a couple of alternate options first: To me, the least likely reason he saying this now is that he’s flat-out lying about his ambitions for 2024. This would be akin to eight-dimensional chess, and I just don’t buy it from the guy.
Another possibility is that there’s some sort of deal in place or loyalty to Harris. It’s possible he’s in line to get an ambassadorship or even more prized — a cabinet post — in a second Biden – or first Harris – administration. The reason this has merit comes from reading between the lines from the interview:
The governor described his relationship with the vice president, a former senator from California, as an “extraordinarily close working relationship,” stemming from before they were in politics. He said they privately continue to “maintain a very good relationship.”
“We’ve had the opportunity to sit down, have lunch together in the White House, spend time talking about important things,” Newsom said.
When asked whether he could imagine running against her, Newsom replied: “Of course not. By definition. Won’t happen.”
That aside, the simplest and most likely reason is that he’s trying to help the progressive Democrats retain power — and the tell on this is his attacks on conservative policies hammered out by Republican legislatures in red states. That’s why he is so vociferous in his railing against Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Gov
And the Left knows that any damage that’s inflicted on DeSantis, who is still very much in contention for the GOP nomination — helps the eventual Democrat nominee, whether that’s Biden, Harris, or someone else in 2024.
Related at RedState:
It’s Official: CA Legislature Passes Draconian ‘Gender-Affirming’ Bill 957, Heads to Newsom’s Desk
Gavin Newsom Wants State to Buy Wind, Thermal Power, Force Californians to Pay for It