Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., said this week his state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, would not be the best choice for Democrats to nominate for president.
In a conversation with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Khanna expressed doubt Newsom would be “impossible to beat” should he get in the race if President Biden steps aside. He expressed a preference in someone he said would run stronger in the Midwest to win the nomination.
“I think we’d have a lot of other contenders,” Khanna said. “I think you’d have people like [Pennsylvania Gov. Josh] Shapiro and others would be better candidates, potentially, in the Midwest. And I think Biden is a stronger candidate in Ohio, in Michigan, in Wisconsin and in large parts of the country.”
Newsom is not running for president, at least not on paper. And he’s officially supporting Biden for re-election. But the California governor has taken several recent actions to raise his national profile ahead of the 2024 election. His visits to deep red states like Idaho to campaign for Biden, public feuds with Republican governors and acceptance of a challenge to debate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for president, all point toward future political ambitions.
Newsom’s upcoming debate with DeSantis, which will be televised and hosted by Fox News’ Sean Hannity, has reportedly irked political advisers of Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who told NBC News the move was “disrespectful.” Those in Harris’ orbit reportedly view the planned debate as an attempt by Newsom to outflank Harris for the 2028 Democratic presidential nomination.
Khanna, who earlier this year declined to run for U.S. Senate to succeed retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the Democrats have several “strong candidates” if Biden does not or cannot complete his re-election campaign.
“I would consider the governor, but I think you’d have other stronger candidates in the Midwest. I don’t, I think the key is who’s going to win Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio. And I think it’s going to take someone who can connect in those places,” he said.
However, Khanna ruled out the possibility Biden declines to run in 2024.
“I don’t understand why people keep underestimating President Biden,” he told Hewitt. “He, this is a person who’s run for president three times. He told — in some report I read — he told his future mother-in-law before marriage that he was going to be President of the United States.
“He is a person of steely resolve and ambition. And I would just tell my Republican friends you make a big mistake by underestimating him. I mean, he’s someone who beat Donald Trump. He’s had the resolve to run three times. He ran for the highest office after losing his son, the most unimaginable grief. What makes you think that that type of a person with that kind of steely ambition is just going to step aside?”
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