New Hampshire

Newsom defends Biden in NH as more Dems call for president to step out of race

California Gov. Gavin Newsom traveled to New Hampshire, acting as a campaign surrogate for President Joe Biden

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom — seen as a top contender if Joe Biden exits the presidential race — acted as a campaign surrogate for the president in New Hampshire Monday.

Newsom shook hands with travelers stopping at the Hooksett rest stop and addressed whether he believes Biden will be the Democratic nominee come November.



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"I believe that absolutely," he said. "I believe that. That's not something for me to control."

Newsom also campaigned with Biden in Pennsylvania over the weekend, offering a forceful defense of the embattled president while sidestepping talk about whether he could be a potential replacement should Biden decide to step aside.

The governor has been quick to turn away that talk.

"It's intentional," Newsom said Monday. "I know how these guys work."

Analysts and strategists say, at a minimum, this moment serves as a trial run for Newsom.

"This is a tire-kicking exercise to be able to explore what it will be like a couple years from now," said political analyst Scott Spradling.

"This is performance art for him, but he can do that in a way that also supports Joe Biden," said Democratic strategist Arnie Arnesen.

Nearly two weeks removed from Biden's lackluster debate performance, Democrats are continuing to wrestle with whether the president can carry the party to victory this fall.

"He should take a moment to make the best informed judgement," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California.

"I think Joe Biden can beat Donald Trump in November. I think a lot of Democrats can beat Donald Trump in November," said Rep. Jake Auchincloss, D-Massachusetts.

Newsom dodged questions over the weekend about those potential outcomes, including a question about whether he would support Vice President Kamala Harris for the nomination if Biden leaves the race.

“I don’t even like playing in the hypotheticals, because last night was about sort of locking down any doubt or ambiguity,” he said, referring to Biden’s session with Democratic governors. “And then we start running in different directions, zigging and zagging and all that kind of speculation. And that gets in the way of progress.”

He acknowledged “a tough few weeks” during his remarks to picnic attendees, and he admitted he had to scrap his planned talking points when facing reporters in Atlanta after the debate. But he said Biden reassured him and other Democratic governors Wednesday at the White House, where the president acknowledged his flop but expressed determination to win his rematch with Trump.

More than 200 people have RSVP'd for Monday's "Blue Summer Campaign Kick-Off," hosted by New Hampshire House and Senate Democrats.

"Democratic candidates and supporters from across New Hampshire will come together to celebrate the great success Democrats have had this year, and look forward to even more victories this fall," said an email announcement for the event.

Four more Democrats in Congress called on Biden to step aside during a phone call on Sunday, but Biden defended his place at the top of the Democratic ticket Monday in a surprise interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"I'm not going anywhere," Biden said. "I absolutely believe that I am the best candidate to beat Donald Trump in 2024."

"I'm getting so frustrated by the elites in the party" calling on him to step down, he added. "I don't care what the millionaires think."

The Associated Press and CNBC contributed to this report.

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