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

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’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. 

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.”

“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.” 

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

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