Newsom: Trump’s Thirst for ‘Vengeance’ Scarier Than ‘Authoritarian’ DeSantis


California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared on NBC’s Meet the Press that while he believes that GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is “functionally authoritarian,” he feels that “the vengeance in Donald Trump's heart right now is more of a threat” to democracy in the United States.

Addressing speculation that he is considering a 2024 White House run if President Joe Biden decides to step aside, the Democratic governor said that “we need to move past this notion that he's not going to run.” He also added that he could not imagine ever running against Vice President Kamala Harris for president.

In his wide-ranging conversation with NBC anchor Chuck Todd that aired on Sunday, Newsom seemed intent to tamp down the rumors that he’s positioning himself to replace Biden on the Democratic ticket amid growing concerns over the president’s age and sagging poll numbers.

Besides heaping praise on Biden’s record as commander-in-chief, Newsom also sought to frame the upcoming election as a referendum on the existence of democracy itself.

“Filing deadlines haven't passed. [If] President Biden doesn’t run, why shouldn’t we consider you a likely candidate?” Todd wondered.

“Well, I think the vice president is naturally the one lined up and the filing deadlines are quickly coming to pass, and I think we need to move past this notion that he’s not going to run,” Newsom responded. “President Biden is going to run, and looking forward to getting him reelected. I think there's been so much wallowing in the last few months, and handwringing in this respect. But we're gearing up for the campaign. We’re looking forward to it.”

Calling himself “old-fashioned,” the governor said that if for any reason Biden didn’t seek re-election, the vice president would be the “natural” replacement and he wouldn’t look to supersede her. He also insisted that there was no bad blood between him and Harris, though he did concede that she and her staff could be upset about his proposed Fox News debate with DeSantis, which some have interpreted as a potential precursor to a 2024 campaign launch.

“Apparently someone in her office is because I read some off-the-record quotes,” he told Todd. “I wish I knew who that was. But I don't hear it from her so—and I’m certainly not hearing it from the White House itself.”

Outside of calling for Democrats to be “more muscular” in promoting Biden’s accomplishments as president, Newsom said the unique dangers that “Trumpism” and the quadruply indicted ex-president pose should also be on the top of the party’s mind.

“Do you think another four years of Donald Trump will break us?” Todd asked.

“I hope we don't have to experience that. But I worry about democracy. I worry about the fetishness for autocracy that we're seeing not just from Trump, but around the world, and notably across this country,” Newsom responded. “I’ve made the point about DeSantis that I think he’s functionally authoritarian. I'm worried more, in many respects, about Trumpism which transcends well beyond his term and time in tenure.”

Pressed on whether he felt the twice-impeached former president, who recently called Newsom a “friend,” or the ultra-conservative Florida governor represented a “greater threat to democracy,” Newsom said he was “concerned about democracy fundamentally” before eventually naming Trump.

“I think the vengeance in Donald Trump’s heart right now is more of a threat,” he concluded.

In the wake of his 91 criminal charges over four separate cases, Trump has essentially made the focus of his 2024 presidential campaign on seeking “revenge” against Biden and other prominent Democrats.

“Do you regret not locking [Hillary Clinton] up? And if you’re president again, will you lock people up?” right-wing pundit Glenn Beck asked Trump last month.

“The answer is you have no choice, because they’re doing it to us,” Trump replied.

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