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Newsom stumps for Biden in Pennsylvania, deflects on if ‘open convention’ would tempt him: ‘Legit question’

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom, while campaigning for President Biden in the battleground state of Pennsylvania over the weekend, was asked about his own prospects should the Democratic incumbent exit the race. 

A longtime top Biden campaign surrogate, Newsom has rallied behind the president’s re-election bid, making stops in Michigan and Pennsylvania in recent days. Yet his own name has been floated as a potential replacement for Biden should the 81-year-old president step aside and allow for an open convention, when Democratic delegates convene in Chicago next month to formally decide their nominee. 

At an event in Doylestown, Pa., on Saturday, Newsom said a second term for former President Trump would equate to “America in reverse” and touted the Biden-Harris administration’s record on the economy. 

On the heels of a disastrous debate performance for Biden, one reporter asked the California governor afterward, “If it comes to an open convention, will you run?

“No, I mean it’s not even…” Newsom began. Interjecting, the reporter pressed: “Absolutely not?”

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“That’s not even, it’s to me, it’s the hypothetical that gets in the way of progress in terms of promoting this candidacy,” Newsom said. 

“That’s a legit question, but it’s exactly where the other party wants us to be is having this internal fight,” Newsom added. “And I think it’s extraordinarily unhelpful. Said that literally the second after the debate. It was my first public comments. So I’ve been consistent in this belief, not just privately, but publicly.” 

Newsom in Doylestown

California Gov. Gavin Newsom greets supporters during a campaign event for President Joe Biden on Saturday, July 6, 2024, in Doylestown, Pa. (Joe Lamberti for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Newsom’s swing through the battlegrounds came following a private meeting between Biden and Democratic governors hosted at the White House on Wednesday. 

Biden is facing increasing calls to step aside amid concerns his age and mental fitness jeopardize Democrats’ chances against Trump in November. 

At a campaign rally in Wisconsin – another battleground – on Friday, Biden himself addressed speculation on whether he’d drop out, telling the crowd: “I am running and going to win again.” 

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“I’m not letting one 90 minute debate wipe out three and a half years of work,” Biden added. 

Biden at Wisconsin rally

President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally at Sherman Middle School in Madison, Wis., Friday, July 5, 2024.  (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Yet, after the rally and the president’s interview with ABC host George Stephanopoulos that aired Friday, Rep.  Angie Craig, D-Minn., became the fifth and latest House Democrat to call on Biden to step aside. 

In Doylestown, Fox News confronted Newsom on the number, asking: “Are you concerned that by continuing to support President Biden when other elected officials seem to be seeing something wrong with him, that you’re damaging your credibility in the long run?” 

“No. Look, there’s a handful of folks that may have different opinions,” Newsom said. “The vast majority of the caucus remains solidly behind the president – president made that point very effectively yesterday in the interview, and that his speech in Wisconsin was very, very, very good. We’re going to see him out here in Pennsylvania in the next day or so. And, and we’re just, you know, staying the course, have his back.”

Newsom in Michigan

California Gov. Gavin Newsom gave a forceful defense of President Biden during a stop Thursday, July 4, 2024, at the Van Buren County Democratic Party Fourth of July reception in South Haven, Mich.  (Don Campbell/The Herald-Palladium via AP)

“And so I really believe in the president, believe in his character. I believe in his confidence, in his capacity. I wouldn’t be out here, 4th of July weekend, missing my kids and families unless I really believed it,” he added. 

Earlier at the event, Newsom told Biden supporters that the 2024 election is about daylight versus darkness, right versus wrong, chaos versus incompetence and “the fate and future of our democracy.” 

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“It’s America in reverse. They want to bring us back to a pre-1960s world,” Newsom said of Trump supporters. “And you are the front lines of that opposition. You are the folks that can make sure that does not happen. Voting rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, not just access to abortion, access to contraception, all of those things are on the ballot. Bucks County, and we are counting on you. America’s counting on you. The world is counting on you. I’ve counted on you. My four kids are counting on you. Thank you for being here today. Thank you for being here tomorrow. Thank you for being here on Election Day. We are going to save democracy and bring back Biden-Harris for four more years.” 

Biden is expected to deliver remarks in Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon. 

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