It’s not surprising President Joe Biden spoke warmly about California Gov. Gavin Newsom at an event that saw Chinese leader Xi Jinping visit the United States. But one comment has fed rumors that Mr. Newsom could be his heir apparent as soon as next year.
“He’s been one hell of a governor, man,” President Biden said to cheers at the Asia-Pacific Cooperation Conference (APEC) on Nov. 16 in San Francisco.
“Matter of fact, he could be anything he wants. Matter of fact, he could have the job I’m looking for.”
Mr. Newsom has been one of the commander-in-chief’s most steadfast allies. As speculation has mounted over a possible White House run by the Golden State’s leader, he has consistently signaled he will not seek the job.
In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” in September, Mr. Newsom said, “President Biden is going to run, and I’m looking forward to him getting reelected.”
“We need to move past discussion that he’s not going to run,” he told host Chuck Todd.
He also said he would not run against Vice President Kamala Harris, another veteran of the political scene in California and, more specifically, 2000’s San Francisco, where Mr. Newsom served as mayor while Ms. Harris was district attorney.
Shortly after mentioning Mr. Newsom, President Biden congratulated San Francisco’s current mayor, London Breed. He described being mayor as “the hardest job in American politics.”
Mr. Newsom’s current term as governor ends in 2026, at which point term limits will force him to vacate the governor’s mansion in Sacramento.
During a gubernatorial debate in October 2022, he swore he would stay in office through 2026, notwithstanding any efforts to draft him for a Biden-free 2024 presidential ticket.
Still, to some observers, Mr. Newsom’s activities in recent months look like a shadow presidential campaign.
He took questions from reporters during the second Republican presidential primary debate, and later this month, he will debate one of the top GOP candidates in that race, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Additionally, prior to APEC, he visited China on a well-publicized trip.
Experts who have spoken with The Epoch Times for previous articles have suggested that Mr. Newsom is well situated to run if President Biden does not.
“Right now, everybody—in public—is saying they’re rallying behind Joe Biden, but it’s very clear that he is deteriorating,” California Assemblyman James Gallagher, who leads the Republicans in that chamber, told The Epoch Times.
Gloria Romero, a California Democrat who at one point served as majority leader of its State Senate, told the Epoch Times that “the conundrum is the vice president.”
She called Mr. Newsom “the replacement candidate.”
President Biden’s APEC comments hint that he could pass the torch, though whether in 2024 or 2028 remains unclear. Yet, he has not suggested he will decline to run—and filing deadlines for presidential primaries have passed in a few states, though far from the majority.
Mr. Newsom would be entering the game late under decidedly unusual circumstances. But he would have plenty of wealthy friends and political allies.
The man whose father was an administrator for the Getty oil family’s trust has a knack for securing donations from many of California’s wealthiest inhabitants, including noted names from Silicon Valley and Hollywood.
Prior to the 2021 election that sought to recall him, for example, Mr. Newsom enjoyed financial support from Netflix cofounder Reed Hastings and the former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt.
A recent Fox News poll showed former President Donald Trump beating Mr. Newsom, Ms. Harris, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in hypothetical head-to-head contests.