California Governor Gavin Newsom said he wished he was President amidst his trip to Israel after the Jewish state was attacked by Islamic militant group Hamas earlier this month.
Newsom visited the Jewish state over the weekend in the wake of the attack which killed over 1,400 Israelis. During his visit, Newsom met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli President Isaac Herzog, and other Israeli officials in Tel Aviv.
The California governor said his experience in Israel connected him to the attack on a “deeper emotional level” which allowed him to “absorb” the reality of the war-torn country. Newsom also said he was working with U.S. officials and NGOs to provide supplies to the region.
In contrast to other progressive politicians, Newsom referred to talks of a ceasefire from Israel as “limited in scope.”
“I wish I was president of the United States,” he said, noting he was limited in his political ability as governor. “I could start doing all those things.”
According to Politico, who originally reported Newsom’s comments, the California governor was reportedly sarcastic in his remark and clarified he was joking.
— Lara Korte (@lara_korte) October 23, 2023
Some critics of the California governor suggested Newsom’s comment indicated he was in fact eyeing a shot at a higher office.
“Well, that’s a quiet part out loud moment,” wrote GOP communicator Matt Whitlock.
Well that’s a quiet part out loud moment. https://t.co/8CQmcLfWqP
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) October 23, 2023
California GOP Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson similarly suggested Newsom “said the quiet part out loud.”
Radio host and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch responded to Newsom’s comment per Politico saying, “FIGHT.”
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) October 23, 2023
Newsom has long been speculated to seek the presidency, though has maintained he would not interfere in President Joe Biden’s bid for a second term in 2024.
Last month, Newsom attended the second Republican presidential primary debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley and was pressed by reporters on a possible presidential run by the California governor.
“I’m enthusiastically passionate about promoting the Biden, not only agenda, but the great implementation, which is his second term and having his back, character, decency,” Newsom said. “And I’m an old-fashioned guy, I believe in a little loyalty.”
The California governor is scheduled to debate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is currently seeking the Republican presidential nomination, on Nov. 30 after the Florida governor accepted Newsom’s debate challenge initially offered last summer.
Newsom, who reiterated he has no current plans to seek the presidency, criticized DeSantis’ campaign and suggested the Florida governor “took the bait” by agreeing to debate him.
“Why is he debating a guy who’s not even running for President when he’s running for President?” Newsom asked, adding he believed DeSantis was “distracted.”
“He’s showing up at the Reagan Library, hallowed ground, and he puts out an ad today, not for his presidential campaign, [but] to promote a debate against the governor of California,” he said.