California Gov. Gavin Newsom insists he is not interested in running for president, although he’s bought ads in Florida and Texas to troll their GOP governors, elevating his profile ahead of the 2024 election as President Biden weighs whether to run for reelection.
“It’s not my ambition,” the Democrat told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett in an exclusive interview on Saturday. “It’s not the direction that I’m leaning into. It’s not the moment.”
When pressed on whether he could say he will never run for president, Newsom said, “Yeah, I have no interest.”
Newsom said he, unlike some Democrats, wants Mr. Biden to run for reelection.
“I don’t think there’s been two years of more effective policy-making of a modern American president,” Newsom said. “It’s been a masterclass the last two years, not necessarily in effective communication and generating narrative, but in terms of the substance under the circumstance, with all the headwinds, the obfuscation and opposition. I think it’s been remarkable.”
The governor is seeking a second term after surviving a recall election in 2021. Since his reelection race is not close, he’s been directing his efforts elsewhere, like New Mexico, where Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is in a tight race.
Newsom said it feels like a red wave is coming, criticizing his own party’s messaging before the midterm elections next week.
“Look, I can be the cheerleader. I’m also pragmatic,” he said. “You feel it. It’s not just intellectualization based on polling.”
“You feel it,” he continued. “And it goes to my fundamental grievance with my damn party. We’re getting crushed on narrative. We’re going to have to do better in terms of getting on the offense and stop being on the damn defense.”
Democrats have leaned into abortion rights this election cycle at the expense of other issues, while Republicans are “winning the messaging war,” Newsom said.
“It’s remarkable Democrats have done as well as they’ve done under these circumstances,” he said.
Newsom also said a Republican-controlled House, with California Rep. Kevin McCarthy as House speaker, fills him with “fear.”
“What he’s done to aid and abet this notion, the ‘Big Lie,’ sowing doubts around the foundation of our democracy, how he’s aiding and abetting functionally authoritarian leaders across his party,” Newsom said. “That scares the hell out of me.”
McCarthy’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Arden Farhi contributed reporting.
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