California Governor Gavin Newsom calls on Democrats to go on offense


California Gov. Gavin Newsom warned members of his party on Saturday that the GOP is “winning right now” as that party controls the national conversation – arguing that the Democrats’ failure to offer a “compelling alternative narrative” will disrupt the “entire rights agenda.” “ turned the last half century upside down.

Newsom has criticized the GOP’s push for restrictive abortion laws, its assault on protecting the LGBTQ community, attempts to ban certain books from schools, and the transport of migrants to liberal cities and enclaves, blaming rivals like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott are trying to obliterate “the legal revolution of the last century” with their “zeal to demonize (and) humiliate people every day.”

“These guys are ruthless on the other side,” Newsom said, condemning the “propaganda machines” of Fox News’ primetime lineup, Newsmax and the “anger industry” he said surrounds them. “They dominate what is most important in American politics today, and that is the narrative – facts are subordinated to the narrative. You dominate with illusion. And we will be crushed. We are always on the defensive.”

The DeSantis and Abbott offices did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Newsom, a Democrat, again denied Saturday that he was considering running for the White House at the Texas Tribune Festival in 2024 or 2028. But he defended the attention-grabbing steps he’s taken this year — including erecting billboards in seven red states that have restricted or banned abortion to encourage women from other states to come to California for their reproductive care — stating that the policies of GOP governors like DeSantis and Abbott need to be more challenged by Democratic leaders like himself.

He said he wasn’t directing his criticism at President Joe Biden — he argued that the president had been “busy” in his first two years in the White House offering a “master class” on “substance and politics.” But he said the Democrats were failing from a “bottom-up organization” standpoint: “Where are we — going on the offensive every single day? You are winning.”

The California governor argued that there was more at stake for his party than just electoral success as he drew attention to state-by-state rollbacks of abortion rights, including in Arizona, where a Pima County Supreme Court judge on Friday issued a nearly full abortion of 1901 reinstated the ban on abortion except to save the mother’s life.

He directed particular ire at DeSantis, his favorite sparring partner, for supporting a law (which is being challenged in court) banning abortions in Florida after 15 weeks with no exceptions for rape, incest or human trafficking.

“Ron DeSantis sits there claiming this gospel of freedom — and you can be an 11-year-old girl who was raped by your father, forced to give birth to your own brother or sister, and he claims freedom in that condition? What the hell is going on?” Newsom said. “I’m not going to let them have that mantle of freedom.”

Newsom noted that former first lady Michelle Obama famously offered the “if they go low, we go up” mantra, but said Democrats don’t currently have that option. Abortion rights, voting rights, civil rights and same-sex marriage are all on “the chopping block,” he argued.

“They want to take us back to before 1960,” Newsom said. “We have to wake up… We have to face this moment head-on, and damn it, the Democratic Party has to assert itself a lot more aggressively than we do.”

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