OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
A leading Democrat is reportedly planning to run for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination if Joe Biden elects to serve only one term, a report noted on Tuesday.
According to sources who spoke to TheWrap, California Gov. Gavin Newsom is “undeniably, unequivocally” going to step and run if Biden doesn’t.
Whispers that Biden will not run again have turned into rumors and then outright predictions by party insiders over the past year especially, as questions about his mental fitness have grown.
(Exclusive) California Governor Gavin Newsom is “undeniably, unequivocally” planning to run for president in 2024 if President Biden chooses not to seek a second term. https://t.co/geBua5ZGej
— TheWrap (@TheWrap) September 19, 2022
For instance, just last month, New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who serves as the chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, told The New York Times that Biden would not campaign again for the job in a comment she intended to be off the record.
She was asked by The Times Editorial Board “should Biden run again and responded by saying ‘Off the record, he’s not running again.'”
The Times responded, “Not off the record. On the record.”
“On the record?” Maloney said. “No, he should not run again.”
Maloney has said in the recent past she does not believe the president will make another White House bid. Earlier in the month, she said during an NY1 three-way debate for New York’s 12th Congressional District against Rep. Jerrold Nadler and attorney Suraj Patel of Biden: “I don’t believe he’s running for re-election,” according to the New York Post.
The question was then put to Nadler, “Should President Biden run again in 2024?” And while he was less direct, he also would not commit to backing Biden, the Democratic Party’s titular leader.
“It’s too early to say,” Nadler responded. “It doesn’t serve the purposes of the Democratic Party to deal with that until after the midterms.”
And in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired on Sunday, Biden himself cast doubts about running again.
“Sir, are you committed to running again, or are there certain conditions that have to be right?” interviewer Scott Pelley asked.
“Look, if I were to say to you, I’m running again, all of a sudden, a whole range of things come into play that I have – requirements I have to change and move and do,” Biden responded, noting that election laws are playing into his reply.
“And it’s much too early to make that kind of decision. I’m a great respecter of fate. And so, what I’m doing is I’m doing my job. I’m gonna do that job. And within the time frame that makes sense after this next election cycle here, going into next year, make a judgment on what to do,” he said.
“You say that it’s much too early to make that decision,” Pelley said in response. “I take it the decision has not been made in your own head.”
“Look, my intention, as I said, to begin with, is that I would run again. But it’s just an intention,” Biden replied. “But is it a firm decision that I run again? That remains to be seen.”
BREAKING: Joe Biden Refuses to commit to 2024 run on 60 Minutes: “Look, my intention, as I said, to begin with is that I would run again. But it's just an intention. But is it a firm decision that I run again? That remains to be seen.” pic.twitter.com/W5DhBCQ0i9
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) September 19, 2022
Doubts about Biden’s intention — or ability — to run again have obviously factored into Newsom’s decision.
“After this midterm election is over, he absolutely is going to announce that he is running for the presidency once Biden announces that he is not running,” a top California fundraiser with close ties to the Newsom and his fmaily told TheWrap. “No ifs, ands, or buts. He will run if Biden does not.”
Newsom is popular in California, but it’s not clear he has the political firepower to rise to national prominence and capture the nomination, especially since most people likely anticipate that the nomination would fall to Vice President Kamala Harris.
That said, Newsom has likely calculated that he could be Harris, a former U.S. senator from California and the state’s attorney general whose approval ratings have consistently been worse than Biden’s, who has also suffered dismal numbers.
And there has been speculation that Harris may lack the ability to close the deal and win the nomination outright.
During a segment on ABC’s “This Week” in early August, network correspondent Jonathan Karl and Yvette Simpson, the Democracy for American CEO, speculated that Harris was not next in line for the Democratic nomination if Biden decides not to run in 2024.
Host George Stephanopoulos noted the “grumblings” coming from the Democrat Party about Biden running again as his approval remains in the 30s.
“I think he should not run. I mean, you know, his numbers are really low, overwhelmingly the poll came out that Democrats don’t want him to run. When folks rallied around him to be the president, the expectation [was] he wouldn’t run again, that he would empower someone to run. Who that person would be, I don’t know,” Simpson said.
“You don’t say Kamala Harris is the heir apparent?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“She’s powerful, she’s young, she’s able to get the energy, but we have not seen her strong and I don’t know why the Biden administration didn’t position her that way,” Simpson replied.