Republicans are “winning the messaging war” ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections, California Gov. Gavin Newsom lamented in a recent interview.

The Democrat, whose own re-election this year is all-but-guaranteed after he survived a recall effort last year, told CBS News that his party had erred by campaigning hard on abortion rights after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June — to the exclusion of bread-and-butter issues like the economy and inflation.

“You feel it. It’s not just intellectualization based on polling,” Newsom said. “You feel it.

“And it goes to my fundamental grievance with my damn party, he added. “We’re getting crushed on narrative. We’re going to have to do better in terms of getting on the offense and stop being on the damn defense.” 

Despite the GOP being heavy favorites to regain control of the House of Representatives and slim favorites to take back the Senate next year, Newsom insisted that “it’s remarkable Democrats have done as well as they’ve done under these circumstances.”

Poll after poll has shown more Americans who say they will vote this year care about the economy than issues like abortion, crime, illegal immigration or the state of American democracy.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that Democrats are getting "crushed on narrative" ahead of the midterm elections.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that Democrats are getting “crushed on narrative” ahead of the midterm elections.
Jeff Gritchen/The Orange County Register via AP

A CNN poll released Wednesday morning showed that 51% of likely voters said the economy and inflation were the most important issues in determining their vote, followed by abortion (15%) and “voting rights and election integrity” (9%). Gun policy (7%) and immigration (6%) rounded out the top five.

The prospect of a poor night for Democrats has heightened speculation about President Biden’s political future, with Newsom mooted as a potential party standard-bearer should Biden opt not to run in 2024.

However, the California governor sought to tamp down the speculation, telling CBS running for president was “not my ambition.”

Newsom said he has "no interest" in running for president in 2024 before praising President Biden's time in office.
Newsom said he has “no interest” in running for president in 2024 before praising President Biden’s time in office.
Photo by Oliver Contreras/Getty Images

“It’s not the direction that I’m leaning into,” he added. “It’s not the moment.”

When asked if he would rule out ever running for the White House, Newsom answered, “Yeah, I have no interest” before praising the 79-year-old Biden.

“I don’t think there’s been two years of more effective policy-making of a modern American president,” he said. “It’s been a masterclass the last two years — not necessarily in effective communication and generating narrative — but in terms of the substance under the circumstance, with all the headwinds, the obfuscation and opposition. I think it’s been remarkable.” 

With Newsom having to do little heavy lifting on the campaign trail this year, he’s spent time stumping for other Western Democrats, such as New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, and buying anti-Republican ads in Texas and Florida.

The governor also told CBS the idea of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) becoming Speaker of the House next year fills him with “fear.”

“What he’s done to aid and abet this notion, the ‘Big Lie,’ sowing doubts around the foundation of our democracy, how he’s aiding and abetting functionally authoritarian leaders across his party,” Newsom said. “That scares the hell out of me.” 



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