Opinion: Newsom running for prez during primary
Just watching him, you might think that after he secures a November ballot slot in the California primary election ending June 7, Gov. Gavin Newsom would hop a quick flight to Iowa or New Hampshire and press the flesh with voters who will decide early on the next Democratic presidential nominee.
From the moment the news service Politico released a draft U.S. Supreme Court decision likely to remove women’s right to abortion on demand, Newsom has focused laser-like on that issue, criticizing his own party almost as much as rival Republicans who rubber-stamped the three Donald Trump high court choices behind the proposed ruling.
Although he still has to take care of the little matter of getting reelected governor of the nation’s largest state, Newsom looks very much the presidential candidate.
Why not? Current President Joseph Biden looks frail and vulnerable in a 2024 reelection run. Onetime prominent contenders Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are now secondhand merchandise. Vice President Kamala Harris, the former California senator who has long been Newsom’s stablemate and friend, has never gotten past the first two presidential primaries and would not be a strong candidate.
Newsom might be all the Democrats have if they want to avoid a second term of Trump or a Trumpist figure like Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, whom Newsom loves to lambaste.
Newsom plainly figures he may soon tower over the Democratic field, and he’s apparently decided the way to assure that is to seize on the likely demise of the Roe v. Wade doctrine of privacy that enables abortion.
So he’s gone after anyone not vocally opposing that probable decision, early and often.
DeSantis, who promoted and signed a bill severely limiting abortion rights in Florida, is a frequent target. Newsom began attacking DeSantis in response to the Floridian’s blasting California policy on COVID-19. “We see students denied an education, workers denied employment and Americans denied freedoms…” DeSantis said.
Newsom’s quick response: We also see 40,000 live people who would have been dead had California followed Florida’s non-closure policies. He added, “I do not look for inspiration to that particular governor.”
But once the demise of Roe v. Wade became likely, Newsom hit harder, even flailing against Democrats he thinks have been too passive.
About Republicans, he said in a campaign funding pitch that they are not pro-life, but pro-birth. “Many of those celebrating the draft opinion oppose funding for pre-natal care,” he said. “Many of those celebrating oppose paid family leave. Many of those celebrating tried to take away health care under the Affordable Care Act. These people don’t even believe in climate science, and that is to say nothing of their handling of the pandemic.”
Of DeSantis, he said, “Anyone been paying attention to what that guy…is doing in Florida? The attacks on the LGBTQ community? They’re going after social-emotional learning in schools…I mean, they make their stuff up out of whole cloth.”
It’s clear Newsom’s pitch this fall and in any presidential run will that be abortion opponents are unwilling to help care for the children they want to see born – or almost anyone else. he said, “They’re pro-birth, and then you’re on your own” (regardless of your financial status).
“We have to beat…every far-right radical running for office in California.” And by implication, everywhere else, too.
But he also attacked Democrats for passivity in the face of determined Republicans pushing abortion bans and other policies, like forbidding the mere mention of gays in Florida elementary schools.
“I can’t take any more (Joe) Manchins,” he said of the West Virginia Democratic senator who has stymied many Biden proposals. “And where is the Democratic Party? Why aren’t we standing up more firmly, calling this out. We need to stand up, where’s the counteroffensive?”
That infuriated Newsom’s fellow San Francisco Democrat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who went on national television to wonder how he could miss her Democratic majority’s efforts to preserve Roe v. Wade.
“I have no idea why anyone would make that statement,..” the offended Pelosi said.
Here’s why: Newsom wasn’t merely campaigning for abortion rights, he was aiming to become the de facto national party leader, and its next presidential candidate, no matter how hard he might deny it now.
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Email Thomas Elias at firstname.lastname@example.org. His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit www.californiafocus.net.