California Gov. Gavin Newsom's unabashed and outspoken progressivism on such hot topics as abortion, guns, and LGBTQ rights has made many liberals tout him for a 2024 presidential run after they have grown dismayed at the Biden administration and Democrat leadership in Congress as Republicans roll back long-cherished protections on their watch, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
His combativeness, including a direct confrontation of Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, is "giving a signal to others in the Democratic Party that this is not, you know, a time to be sweet and nice." former Democrat California Sen. Barbara Boxer said.
Liberal activists launched a website this week urging President Joe Biden not to seek a second term, as Democrats have increasing concerns about his low approval ratings and his ability to run again in his 80s.
Many Democrats say that Newsom has channeled the raw anger that has gripped the party like few others, such as when he stated at a news conference earlier this year, as the Supreme Court closed in on overturning Roe v. Wade, that the conservative agenda is winning and asked, "Where the hell's my party?"
The Washington Post reported that Newsom's campaign recently spent about $100,000 on an Independence Day ad on Fox News that aired in Florida, not California, stating that "freedom [is] under attack in your state. Your Republican leaders [are] banning books. Making it harder to vote. Restricting speech in classrooms. Even criminalizing women and doctors."
In addition, after Texas passed an unprecedented abortion ban meant to evade judicial scrutiny, Newsom said California would use the same strategy against assault weapons and signed such legislation this week.
Ian Calderon, a former majority leader of the California State Assembly who welcomed Newsom's Florida ad, said that "Democratic voters are tired of feeling like we're on defense and want our leaders to go on offense because we believe that we're right on the issues."
However, there are Democrats who say Newsom's criticism of the party is counterproductive and fear centrist voters would view him as a symbol of coastal blue state elitism.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized his "Where the hell's my party?" line, telling CBS News' "Face the Nation" in May that "I have no idea why anybody would make that statement unless they were unaware of the fight that has been going on."
Newsom himself has said his calls for Democrat action are not meant to fault Biden, and advisers have pointed to Newsom's insistence he has "subzero interest" in a presidential bid.
Before his Florida ad aired, Newsom stressed his support for Biden in an interview with CNN, saying "We need to unify the Democratic Party and not destroy ourselves from within. We need to have our president's back. But we also have to get on the field. He needs troops."
But Matt Bennett, a founder of Third Way, a center-left think tank that has praised Biden's approach of trying to avoid national divisiveness, told The Washington Post that "if we presume that the Republicans will nominate Trump or somebody just like him — and I would put DeSantis in that category — whoever we nominate, whether it's the president or somebody else, is going to have to be ready to fight."
Brian Freeman ✉
Brian Freeman, a Newsmax writer based in Israel, has more than three decades writing and editing about culture and politics for newspapers, online and television.
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