Newsom hits the road campaigning for Biden in Idaho, building his own base in red states

Governor Gavin Newsom speaks with supporters at a private fundraiser in Boise, Idaho.

Over the past three months, Governor Gavin Newsom has given more than $3 million to President Biden and other Democrats in Republican-led states such as Mississippi, Tennessee and Florida. (Hannah Wiley/Los Angeles Times)

At a private fundraiser amid Donald Trump’s America, California Governor Gavin Newsom was on a mission to help President Biden.

Newsom, who hit the road over the July 4 holiday weekend, told a group of about 50 Democrats gathered in the backyard of a mansion overlooking the foothills of Boise on Saturday to argue “l powerful argument why we should be passionate, enthusiastic about Biden’s re-election.”

At a time when states like Idaho, where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by more than 4 to 1, are enacting laws to restrict abortion, gay rights and advance other cultural pillars of GOP agenda, Newsom said only one man could be trusted to turn the tide: Biden.

The 80-year-old president has used his years in office to aggressively fight for Democratic priorities, Newsom told them, including LGBTQ+ rights, gun control and clean energy, while rebuilding America’s economy. after COVID and keeping democracy afloat.

“I’m really proud of this president, and I hope you are too,” Newsom told a crowd happy to have one of the party’s rising stars.

Saturday’s stint through Idaho not only energized Biden’s much-neglected base in such a conservative corner of the West. It helped build a future for Newsom.

Many Democrats who flocked to hear Newsom speak in Idaho and at a separate fundraising event earlier today in Bend, Oregon, said they believed the 55-year-old liberal governor was offering a glimpse into the future of their party, a bolder, more charismatic and younger potential heir to Biden’s legacy in the post-Trump years.

“He looks like an incredible presidential candidate,” said Russ Buschert, an Idaho Democratic Party administrator.

Michele Anderson, a Bend realtor and former Bay Area resident, praised Newsom for using his “pretty punchy” voice and willingness to take a stand on the most critical issues facing the nation while pushing back against Republicans. that erode the progress made in the country’s recent history.

“I really appreciate what Joe Biden has done, but I think it’s time for this next generation of leaders as well,” Anderson said. “And I see Gavin Newsom being part of that.”

Newsom says he has no interest in the White House and his trips across the country are to promote his party and its president ahead of the 2024 election.

But his stumping for Biden positions Newsom well for other job prospects, said Rob Stutzman, a Republican consultant in California. His public feud with Republicans fills a “void” in his party and sends the message that he is a Democrat willing and unafraid to take on the MAGA wing of the GOP – a crusade that helps raise the national profile of Newsom and building a database of supporters along the way.

“He takes time and effort that no one else outside of the White House seems to be,” Stutzman said. “He acts like the waiting candidate.

“One day it might pay off for him.”

The visit to Idaho, which kicked off Newsom’s second tour through red states in recent months, was intended to bolster enthusiasm for Biden’s accomplishments and tout the party’s accomplishments, while providing beleaguered local Democrats a little love, attention and a little campaign money from his political action committee Campaign for Democracy.

Newsom presented the Idaho Democratic Party with a check for $10,000 for the event, the maximum allowed; that’s a fraction of the more than $3 million he’s paid to Biden and Democrats in Republican-led states such as Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi over the past three months. This week, he will have private meetings with Democrats in Montana during the annual Fourth of July family holiday, with a later stop in Utah.

The move through Republican-led states gives Newsom an opportunity to remind local Democrats how critical they are in fighting what he described as a GOP-led “rights rollback.”

“Do you think that Trump, if he returns to power, is not going to demand a third term? Give me a break,” Newsom said. “You think January 6 is the last we’re going to see…Give me a break.”

Newsom’s foray deeper into the national political arena has evolved since last year, when he tore his party apart for not being aggressive enough in the face of Republican victories at the local, state and national levels, including at the United States Supreme Court.

“I’m just trying to move from lamentation and criticism to action and accountability,” Newsom said in an interview with The Times in Boise. “Nobody wants to hear a critic. What are you going to do? And I had to answer the question ‘what am I going to do.

“I’m trying to build something,” he said. “But I try to be complementary to the work that is already underway.”

But Newsom also faces all the side effects of his campaign in red states like Idaho, one of the top states where Californians are fleeing, according to data analyzed by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. During Newsom’s tenure as governor, California has seen an increase in homelessness and a worsening housing shortage and affordability crisis, some of the issues cited in a recent PPIC poll showing that 4 in 10 Californians are considering leaving the state.

“California’s far-left governor came to Boise to raise money for Idaho Democrats…and to export his litany of failed policies, including soaring housing costs,” Idaho Republican Party Chairwoman Dorothy Moon said in a statement. “People are fleeing California in droves because they don’t want to live like serfs in Prince Gavin’s kingdom. I’m pretty sure his visit here in normal America violates some sort of California travel restriction.

California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said the state’s struggles should “serve as a wake-up call to the rest of the nation.”

“As Newsom runs a shadow presidential campaign, it is increasingly clear that he wants to take his failures from his own state directly to the White House,” Millan Patterson said in a statement. “You don’t want what Gavin Newsom sells.”

Newsom dismissed that criticism as tired Republican talking points and a distraction from the cultural issues underlying his trip.

“I don’t do stump speeches in California, I’ve never done it in any of the red states I’ve been to,” he said, adding that his mission was not a “Visit the Street” campaign. California”. “That’s not what it’s about. . I’m talking about the Democratic Party and our values, and I think there’s something to brag about in that regard.

Mike Madrid, a Republican political consultant and co-founder of anti-Trump group The Lincoln Project, said Newsom’s brand is appealing to Democrats across the country, including in swing states, who are looking for a leader “without shame and without shameless” to lead the defence. against the Republicans.

While Democrats of decades past focused on the economy and shunned the most contentious cultural issues of their time, Madrid said, Newsom’s focus on LGBTQ+ and transgender rights, gun control and environmental issues attracts white-collar, college-educated members of his party, as well as some Latino voters looking for a political home.

It could be a winning strategy in a deeply divided America in the midst of a culture war, Madrid said. As voters look for a champion on cultural issues, “Gavin Newsom is that champion.”

At least for now, Newsom is ignoring the presidential compliments and sticking to the script.

“I guess I should be humbled by that,” he said. “But that’s not why I’m here.”

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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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