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Newsom Is Preparing to Be the Backup

Gavin Newsom has been all over the media of late, even though he is term-limited as governor and probably won't run for president in 2024. He is likely to go for it in 2028, but it is a bit early to start his 2028 campaign now. So what's he doing?

For one thing, he is picking a fight with Ron DeSantis, calling the Florida governor a "small, pathetic man." Is that an attempt to take DeSantis down and indirectly help Donald Trump get the nomination? Maybe. It could be that Newsom sees Trump as a weaker opponent, so this is his way of helping Biden.

However, one Democratic strategist, Steven Maviglio, thinks Newsom is just positioning himself in case something happens to the 80-year-old president and the Democrats need someone else at the last minute. Newsom and other Democrats remember how bad a candidate Kamala Harris was in 2020. She was so hopeless that she dropped out before the Iowa caucuses. This line of thinking says that should something happen to Biden that takes him out, Newsom would be the backup, not Harris. In any event, lots of PR now can't hurt his 2028 campaign, even if it doesn't help much either. And if 2028 ends up as DeSantis' "turn" as the 2024 second-place finisher, then all the better.

Normally, the vice presidential candidate is the attack dog, but having a Black woman who is not naturally an attacker try to do that probably won't work well. Just having a Black woman be aggressive, even if she is good at it (as is Rep. Maxine Waters, D-CA), would be problematic for some voters. But having a very high-profile young governor take the role of attack dog would be fine. And as a side effect, this will get Newsom a reputation among Democrats as a team player and win him some support for 2028 while helping Biden right now. By letting the California Governor do the heavy hitting, Biden can act presidential, a role he greatly prefers anyway. It's a win-win situation for everyone except Harris, who may be facing Newsom in 2028 and probably doesn't like being overshadowed by him now, but Newsom is certainly not going to defer to her. (V)

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