Gov. Gavin Newsom may have revealed his not-so-secret wish to take President Joe Biden's place in the White House, the Daily Wire reported. The California Democrat joked about the possibility while speaking to the press in Hong Kong Monday.
Newsom was in the country during a trip to Israel, where a terrorist attack perpetrated by Hamas killed more than 1,400 people on Oct. 7. In retaliation, Israel attacked Gaza, and more violence is sure to come.
When asked about whether he urged a ceasefire during his travels and meetings with the authorities in Israel, Newsom insisted his trip was "limited in scope." It's not clear what business a governor from California would have in an international conflict, but perhaps his "joke" sheds light on that.
"I wish I was president of the United States," Newsom said, followed by his insistence that he was just kidding. "I could start doing all those things," he went on.
Despite the claim of sarcasm, many believe it was Newsom's way of expressing his true intentions. "He said the quiet part out loud," California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson posted to X, formerly known as Twitter.
Republican communications strategist Matt Whitlock also quipped that this was a "quiet part out loud moment" in a post to X. "FIGHT," Dana Loesch, a conservative radio host, added to the conversation.
Joking or not, Newsom has been behaving like a presidential candidate while simultaneously pledging his support to Biden's 2024 reelection. Newsom challenged Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, to a debate last month.
Despite the clear message that action sent, Newsom once again claimed he was not running for president. "The answer is no. No ambiguity," Newsom said.
However, Newsom took the unprecedented step of running what amounted to campaign ads in Florida last year when DeSantis was being talked about as a viable alternative to former President Donald Trump for the GOP nomination. Newsom spent $105,000 trying to turn residents of the Sunshine State against DeSantis, Fox News reported.
While he would not say what exactly he was up to, many saw Newsom's ads, released in time for Independence Day of 2022, as an attempt to introduce him as a Biden's replacement. Newsom has repeatedly said he would back Biden but has also been outspoken about what his fellow Democrats were facing with Republicans gaining ground in the culture war.
"Why aren’t we standing up more firmly, more resolutely? Why aren’t we calling this out?" Newsom said. "This is a concerted, coordinated effort. And, yes, they’re winning. They are. They have been. Let’s acknowledge that. We need to stand up. Where’s the counteroffensive?"
Since the ads were released, Newsom hasn't been able to rally much of anything in favor of his party. A spokesperson for DeSantis had predicted as much.
"The people of Florida pay no mind to the pathetic smear campaigns from the Democrats and their allies in the corporate media. We’re too busy enjoying the freedom Governor Ron DeSantis has created in the Sunshine State," the spokesperson said.
Newsom probably has aspirations for the presidency based on his previous behavior but is not interested in taking such a political risk. It's also possible he knows he's not ready to face off against Trump.