Harris, Newsom hit the trail in support of embattled President Biden

As President Biden tries to cling onto the Democratic Party nomination in the aftermath of his lackluster debate performance, prominent Californians — notably Vice President Kamala Harris and Gov. Gavin Newsom — have been trying to buttress the embattled incumbent on the campaign trail .

Newsom will stump for the president and raise money for local politicians on Monday in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first presidential primary in the nation. And Harris will rally Asian American voters on Tuesday in Nevada, another critical early voting state.

Both Democrats — contemporaries whose careers were forged in the crucible of San Francisco politics — are publicly and vocally standing by Biden. But their names are among the most cited as potential replacements should the president decide not to seek reelection as a growing number of Democrats are calling on him to bow out of the race.

On Sunday, Rep. Adam B. Schiff of Burbank was the latest Democrat to express concerns about Biden’s candidacy.

“The performance on the debate stage, I think rightfully, raised questions among the American people about whether the president has the vigor to defeat Donald Trump. And this is an existential race,” Schiff, a candidate for U.S. Senate, said on “Meet the Press.” “It should not be even close. And there’s only one reason it is close, and that’s the president’s age.”

Biden on Monday repeated that he would not drop out of the race, sending a letter to Democrats urging them to unite around his candidacy and defeating Trump.

“The question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now. And it’s time for it to end,” Biden wrote. “We have one job. And that is to beat Donald Trump. We have 42 days to the Democratic Convention and 119 days to the general election. Any weakening of resolve or lack of clarity about the task ahead only helps Trump and hurts us. It is time to come together, move forward as a unified party, and defeat Donald Trump.”

Given the growing drumbeat among Democrats for Biden to bow out of the race, there has been a frenzy of speculation about who could potentially replace him at the top of the ticket.

Harris is clearly the favorite, given her position as his No. 2. She has also run for president previously and has been on the national stage for years. But Newsom’s name has also been raised. Neither has given any public indication of hoping to replace Biden. But their appearance in early-voting states makes such speculation inevitable.

“Newsom, I think he’s thinking about 2028, and Kamala is talking about maybe tomorrow or the next day,” said Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire. “Newsom, i think he’s smart enough to realize if it’s not Biden, it’s going to be Harris. He’ll keep doing what he’s doing, playing the long game, if Harris fails. If she gets the nomination and doesn’t manage to pull it off, then the fields open in 2028.”

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