PALO ALTO, Calif. — When President Biden touched down in California on Monday, an enthusiastic Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) stood at the bottom of the stairs of Air Force One to welcome him.
The governor stepped forward from the line of greeters to be the first to shake the president’s hand. After speaking for a few seconds, the president patted Newsom on the chest before the two turned to greet others.
Newsom’s front-and-center approach during Biden’s trip is reflective of a rising media profile in recent weeks that has renewed speculation of presidential aspirations.
The president, 80, and governor, 55, spent the afternoon together, first going from the airport to a nature center where they walked along a bridge over the San Francisco Bay ahead of an event. Then, Newsom, standing at a podium with a presidential seal on it, praised Biden, saying that no president has delivered more on combating climate change.
When questions were swirling over whether Biden would run for reelection given concerns with his age and low approval rating, Newsom was viewed as a possible presidential contender. Some even wondered if the governor would take the unprecedented and politically-challenging step to primary the president.
But on the way to the Golden State, where Newsom has been governor since 2019, the White House painted their relationship as nothing but positive.
“This is a governor that has supported the president’s agenda, his economic policies,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Air Force One on Monday before touching down in California. “That’s what you’re going to see from this president, and that’s what you’re going to see from their relationship — continuing working — good working relationship.”
Neither Newsom nor the White House revealed until days out from the visit that the governor would be joining Biden at the event, let alone greeting him at the airport.
Newsom has long been in the national spotlight — beyond the sunny West Coast — but recently even more so, through his decisions to go after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a GOP presidential hopeful, over migrants from the Sunshine State being flown to California. He also made the notable decision to sit down for a one-on-one with Fox News host Sean Hannity — a network and host not always friendly to Democrats.
Along the beautiful backdrop of the San Francisco Bay in Palo Alto on Monday, Newsom touted the president’s work with the Inflation Reduction Act to combat climate change. The two sat next to each other, both in suits and no ties and wearing baseball hats, listening to an environmental student introduce the president.
Newsom stood up to clap when the president took to the podium, where Biden then showcased some of his signature bashing of certain Republicans.
“Unfortunately, some of our MAGA Republicans friends in Congress are trying to undo the progress we’ve made,” the president said about his work on climate.
“We didn’t let that happen,” Biden added.
The president then reiterated a familiar line that this “isn’t your fathers’ Republican party,” while giving a campaign plea to the couple dozen of people in attendance at the nature center.
“With your help, we’re going to stop them again,” Biden said.
The Biden-Newsom dynamic was on display again as the president greeted some of the event attendees, shaking hands and taking selfies while the governor looked on. Biden was side-by-side with Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who introduced the president to some guests, and Newsom stayed just behind them, smiling along.
Newsom has been in California politics since 2003 and never served in Congress, while Eshoo has been in the House since 2013 and is a close ally to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif).
The California stop showcased how the White House and Biden campaign appear to be using Newsom as an asset in 2024, an effort which could rev up as the governor becomes even more outspoken on immigration and critical of some of his Republican gubernatorial counterparts.
Newsom is expected to join Biden for a campaign fundraising event while the president is in the San Francisco area, where the two aim to use their star quality to rake in cash in the Bay Area ahead of Biden’s first 2024 campaign finance report, which drops in July.
The report will be the first time Biden will showcase just where he’s garnering support for his reelection bid to the White House. Other fundraising stops ahead of the report include other wealthy, safe-Democratic areas, including New York and Chicago.
Source: The Hill