Biden surrogate Newsom says calls by Democrats for president to step aside ‘not helpful’

HOOKSETT, N.H. – Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, who’s a top surrogate for President Biden’s re-election campaign, is taking aim at the small but growing number of Democrats urging the president to end his re-election bid. 

“It doesn’t help. Let’s be candid here,” Newsom said as he spoke with reporters during a stop Monday in New Hampshire, the third swing state that the governor has campaigned in on behalf of Biden since Thursday.

Following his extremely rough debate performance a week and a half ago in his first face-to-face showdown with former President Trump, Biden has been attempting to prove that he still has the stamina and acuity to handle the toughest and most demanding job in the world. And he’s trying to prove that he has the fortitude to defeat Trump.

The debate was a major setback for Biden, who at 81 is the oldest president in the nation’s history. His halting delivery and stumbling answers at the showdown in Atlanta sparked widespread panic in the Democratic Party and a rising tide of public and private calls from within his own party for him to step aside as its 2024 standard-bearer.


President Biden and former President Trump debated on Thursday night.  (Getty Images)

Over the past week, six House Democrats have publicly called on Biden to end his re-election bid. And on Sunday, Fox News and other news organizations reported that four House Democrats who hold top positions on key committees said on a private conference call that the president needed to step aside.

Asked by Fox News about the political damage from such calls from within the party, Newsom said “obviously, it’s not helpful, but it’s a handful of people.”


And the governor emphasized that the “overwhelming majority of the caucus” is still supporting Biden. “Every single stop that we’ve had in the six days that I’ve been out, we’ve had to change venues because there were so many people showing up. They’re not giving in to the cynicism, fear, they’re showing up.”

Biden, in a letter sent to congressional Democrats on Monday as they returned from the July 4th holiday recess, reiterated that he’s “firmly committed to staying in this race” and argued that “the question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now. And it is time for it to end. We have one job. And that is to beat Donald Trump.”

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President Biden speaks at a campaign rally in Madison, WI. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

“Any weakening of resolve or lack of clarity about the task ahead only helps Trump and hurts us,” the president added. “It is time to come together, move forward as a unified party, and defeat Donald Trump.”

Newsom spoke with reporters soon after White House officials defended Biden’s health and denied he was ever treated for Parkinson’s disease. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre fielded a barrage of questions on Monday afternoon over recent reports that a top neurologist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center met with Biden’s physician at the White House in January.


“Has the president been treated for Parkinson’s? No,” she told reporters after being pressed further on the matter. “Is he being treated for Parkinsons? No, he’s not. Is he taking medication for Parkinson’s? No. So, those are the things that I can give you full-blown answers on.”

Asked if he had any concerns about Biden’s cognitive abilities, Newsom responded, “I don’t.”

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Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California speaks with Fox News and other news organizations during a gaggle with reporters in Hooksett, New Hampshire, on July 8, 2024 (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)

“I have spent as much or more time than probably any other governor in the country with him,” Newsom emphasized. “I’ve spent a lot of time with him privately, been with him in many public settings. I was with him just a few days ago with other governors. Been on the phone late at night and early morning, in many, many stressful situations and very casual conversations. And no, I don’t have any doubt about that.”

A handful of national polls conducted entirely after the debate and released last week contained plenty of red flags for the president – including Trump widening his single-digit edge over Biden and deepening concerns of Americans about whether Biden was up to the task of running the country.


But a Bloomberg-Morning Consult poll released over the weekend indicated Biden gaining ground on Trump in some of the key battleground states that will likely determine the outcome of the presidential election.

Despite his denials, Newsom’s name continuously comes up in media reports as a potential replacement should the president change his mind and decide to end his re-election campaign.

Asked if it’s an intentional distraction, the governor said “of course it is.”

“Look. It’s intentional. I know how these guys work,” Newsom charged, as he pointed towards conservative media. “This is all very intentionally ginned up in order to create a little mishegoss (a Yiddish word for crazy or senseless behavior or activity).” 

Newsom said “I don’t take it personally. I don’t take it seriously except to say sometimes I do believe others do take it more seriously than they should.

And he argued “I think it’s intentional mis and disinformation and it can be very effective, and we have to counter that and that’s why I’m out here.”


Vice President Kamala Harris would be the leading contender to succeed Biden in the long-shot that he steps aside.

Asked if Harris – who served as California attorney general and U.S. senator from the Golden State before being elected vice president – could defeat Trump, Newsom said “I have no doubt about that.”

But he added that “it’s a hypothetical” and “I don’t expect it’s going to come to that.”

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Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, a top surrogate for President Biden, speaks with voters during a stop at a highway rest area in Hooksett, New Hampshire, on July 8, 2024 (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)

Newsom spoke with reporters after a meet and greet at a highway rest area in Hooksett, New Hampshire.

Earlier, the governor met privately with longtime New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley and a group of activists in Concord. 

Later, Newsom headlined a fundraising event in Manchester for Democratic state lawmakers running in this autumn’s elections.

While the main mission of Monday’s stops in New Hampshire was to support Biden’s re-election effort and to help raise money for down-ballot Democrats, the stop could potentially pay dividends for Newsom down the road.

Newsom’s first appearance in years in the state that for a century has held the first presidential primary in the race for the White House (and this cycle still held the first primary in the Democratic nominating calendar, even though it was unsanctioned after the Democratic National Committee put South Carolina first on their schedule) was on the calendar before last month’s debate.

But regardless, it will definitely spark more buzz about a potential 2028 presidential bid.

“While it may have been planned prior to lthe debate, Gov. Newsom’s visit to the Granite State will surely fuel speculation about replacing President Biden on the presidential ballot. And while he may be here to stump for the President and down ballot democrats, he is sure to get just as many questions about his own presidential ambitions,” longtime New Hampshire political scientist Wayne Lesperance, the president of New England College, told Fox News.

Others high-profile Democrats who may have national ambitions in 2028 who have stopped in New Hampshire over the past year include fellow Govs. Tim Walz of Minnesota and J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota – who ran for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination – and Rep. Ro Khanna of California. 

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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