Newsom stands by Biden, repeats that he wouldn't run against Harris

FILE - California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks to reporters after a presidential debate between President Joe Biden and Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump in Atlanta, Thursday, June 27, 2024. On Saturday, June 29, 2024, Newsom signed California's budget to close an estimated $46.8 billion deficit through $16 billion in spending cuts and temporarily raising taxes on some businesses. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks to reporters after a presidential debate between President Biden and former President Trump in Atlanta on June 27, 2024. (John Bazemore / Associated Press)

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said he would not run for president against Vice President Kamala Harris and remained steadfast in his support for President Biden as talks about seeking an alternative presidential nominee continue among Democrats.

His comments indicate that if Biden gives into calls to step aside, the California governor will not challenge Harris, a front-runner in conversations about who should replace the president on the November ballot, if she seeks the nomination.

"Of course," Newsom said when asked whether he stood by comments he made last year about not running against Harris. "Yes."

Read more: Harris rallies in Las Vegas for Biden. Many Democrats agree, but some want her to face Trump

Newsom's vow would avoid a potentially ugly political battle for the party and its donors. Newsom and Harris rose up in Bay Area politics to become the state's two most prominent elected officials. As vice president and Biden's 2020 running mate, Harris would be the presumed Democratic front-runner to lead the ticket if called upon.

Newsom reaffirmed his stance during a news conference about California's wildfire response at Sacramento McClellan Airport after returning from a swing-state tour on behalf of the Biden campaign.

Newsom campaigned for Biden in New Hampshire and Michigan as part of his effort to shore up support for the president after his poor debate performance against former President Trump in Atlanta in late June. The governor, who attended the debate as a surrogate for Biden, has attempted to swat down concerns about the president's mental capacity and attested to the president's abilities based on their personal interactions.

He's continued to back Biden even as other Democrats question his ability to run.

On Wednesday, Newsom said he hadn't read the full breadth of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comments about Biden on MSNBC that morning.

“It’s up to the president to decide if he is going to run,” Rep. Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said. “We’re all encouraging him to make that decision because time is running short.”

Newsom said he had also not read an opinion piece written by actor George Clooney calling for a Democrat to replace Biden.

Read more: George Clooney calls on president to step aside: Aging Biden no longer the man he was

Biden repeatedly has said he intends to remain in the race and even challenged Democrats who think they can beat him to step up.

"I think I've had 100 media outlets asking the same question, and I think that I've amply answered my support for the president and the support I saw on the ground was demonstrable," Newsom said Wednesday.

He referenced Biden's support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and compared the president with Trump, who Newsom said "didn't even know what NATO was."

In the past, he's said the vice president would be naturally lined up to run if Biden ended his campaign. In New Hampshire, Newsom said he thought Harris could beat Trump.

"I have no doubt about that," Newsom told reporters. "If it comes to that, but I don't expect it's going to come to that."

Staff writers Noah Bierman and Seema Mehta contributed to this report.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.