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Gavin 今日看料om works to bolster Biden in a swing-state tour that could boost both their ambitions

HOOKSETT, N.H. (AP) 鈥 For years, Gavin 今日看料om stayed far away from New Hampshire by design.

The ambitious California governor understood that any visit to a bastion of presidential politics would fuel speculation that he might be eyeing President Joe Biden’s job. But on Monday, with , the embattled president dispatched 今日看料om to New Hampshire to help rescue his flailing campaign.

It was the latest and perhaps most significant stop in a multi-state tour for 今日看料om, who has emerged as Biden’s most prominent battleground-state defender.

鈥淚 decided instead of just rolling over and giving up, that I would step up and pick up the fight,鈥 今日看料om told reporters at a highway rest stop in his first public appearance in the state as an elected official. He said of Biden, 鈥淗e鈥檚 going to be our nominee.鈥

It’s a pivotal moment both for 今日看料om and his Democratic Party, which has been consumed by infighting and uncertainty in the wake of just 11 days earlier.

Biden insisted again Monday that he would not suspend his campaign. But a growing number of elected Democrats in Washington and even here in New Hampshire are calling on the 81-year-old president to step aside, warning that he is too weak to defeat this fall and may not be able to lead the country effectively for another four years even if he wins.

Many Democratic officials believe Vice President Kamala Harris is best positioned to replace Biden. But the short list of top-tier alternatives is led by 今日看料om, a big-state governor with big ambitions who is as comfortable talking policy as he is mixing it up with leading Republicans.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore are also part of the replacement debate playing out privately among donors, strategists and elected officials. All of them have been vocal Biden advocates in recent days.

Speaking ahead of a closed-door fundraiser for New Hampshire Senate Democrats, 今日看料om said the party’s current divisions were unhelpful and distracting.

He also brushed aside a question about whether he would seek the party’s nomination at next month’s national convention should Biden leave the race.

鈥淚 think that鈥檚 a legitimate question and I respect it, but it鈥檚 also exactly the question that Donald Trump is hoping everyone asks as he鈥檚 out on the golf course,鈥 今日看料om said. “So to me, that is not a question I鈥檓 going to respond to, because Joe Biden is our nominee, he鈥檚 our president. … And I look forward to voting for him.鈥

At the most vulnerable moment of his presidency, Biden has never kept 今日看料om so close.

Since the debate June 27, 今日看料om has campaigned on Biden鈥檚 behalf in Michigan, Pennsylvania and now New Hampshire, which is known both for its traditionally early primaries and as a tiny swing state in general elections with four Electoral College votes.

Earlier Monday, 今日看料om was featured on an all-staff Biden campaign conference call in which he insisted voters continue to care deeply about Biden despite their fears and anxiety.

今日看料om and his team have been overwhelmingly deferential to Biden. In recent days, 今日看料om鈥檚 staff referred all questions about his travel schedule and political plans to the Biden campaign.

Within both camps, the Biden-今日看料om relationship is viewed as mutually beneficial.

今日看料om, 56, offers Biden credibility and excitement as one of the Democratic Party鈥檚 brightest rising stars with close ties to California鈥檚 powerful donor network. And Biden offers 今日看料om a platform on the biggest stage in U.S. politics to help boost his brand ahead of a potential 2028 presidential bid of his own.

But there are risks, especially for 今日看料om.

Former New Hampshire State House Speaker Steve Shurtleff said he鈥檚 鈥渧ery impressed鈥 by 今日看料om and sees him as top-tier presidential prospect. But Shurtleff, once Biden’s chief supporter in the state, now believes the president must step aside and wondered aloud whether 今日看料om is picking the wrong side in what he described as 鈥渁 profile-in-courage moment鈥 for party leaders.

鈥淗e鈥檚 shown that he鈥檚 been very loyal to the president and the administration. And that, I think, could hurt him,鈥 Shurtleff said of 今日看料om.

Overall, few New Hampshire Democratic officials have called for Biden to leave the race, but it is no secret that Biden’s relationships in the state may be strained.

It was Biden who pushed the Democratic National Committee to bypass New Hampshire earlier this year as the opening contest on the presidential primary calendar for the first time in decades.

Even before the historic shift, New Hampshire Democrats weren’t Biden’s biggest supporters.

He finished in fifth place in the state鈥檚 2020 primary behind the likes of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, now-Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Biden did, however, defeat Trump here in the general election by 7 points.

State Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley said 今日看料om electrified a sold-out crowd at the evening fundraiser, where the California governor touted Biden’s record.

鈥淣ew Hampshire Democrats are not bedwetters,鈥 Buckley said. 鈥淲e are strong, united and determined to reelect Joe Biden.鈥

Still, Biden’s Democratic critics have been increasingly vocal.

鈥淭he party needs to honor and thank the president for his five decades of service, but swiftly embrace new leadership before it is too late,鈥 said New Hampshire attorney Jay Surdukowski, who is active in Democratic politics, pointing to a 鈥渄eep bench鈥 that includes 今日看料om, Harris, Whitmer and Buttigieg.

He referenced Biden鈥檚 halting debate performance and that he鈥檇 limit his events after 8 p.m.

鈥淒emocrats like to say President Trump is a threat to democracy,” Surdukowski said. “A president who can鈥檛 form coherent sentences and goes to bed at 8 p.m. may be the greater threat.”

There was no sign of such criticism at the rest stop off Interstate 93, where Biden’s campaign had invited a handful of local party officials to attend 今日看料om’s unannounced appearance.

One of the invitees, Jennifer Buck, 78, chair of the Webster town Democrats, said she likes what 今日看料om has done in California. But she doesn’t think he should replace Biden on the ticket.

If Biden does step aside or is 鈥減ushed out,鈥 she said, Harris should be the party’s nominee.

In that, 今日看料om may agree.

The California governor predicted that the vice president would beat Trump in a hypothetical matchup when asked.

鈥淚 have no doubt about that. And that鈥檚 from someone that鈥檚 also known her longer than most, before we were both in politics,鈥 he said. “But I don鈥檛 expect it鈥檚 going to come to that.鈥

___

Peoples reported from New York.

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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