Ezra Klein knocks Newsom quip: ‘What kind of party would do nothing?’

New York Times columnist Ezra Klein went after California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and the Democratic establishment on Sunday after they brushed off rising concerns about President Biden’s viability to win reelection.

After a poor performance at last week’s presidential debate, Newsom, as a top surrogate in the spin room, downplayed any idea that Biden should step aside, despite his name being floated as a top potential replacement on the 2024 ticket.

“We gotta have the back of this president,” Newsom said. “You don’t turn your back because of one performance. What kind of party does that?”

Klein called out the governor in his latest column.

“Perhaps a party that wants to win?” he wrote. “Or a party that wants to nominate a candidate that the American people believe is up to the job? Maybe the better question is: What kind of party would do nothing right now?”

Biden’s first debate performance raised alarm among some Democrats and supporters, with the president at times showing difficulty stringing ideas together and often appearing slack-jawed.

A rising number of Democratic voters, along with some unnamed lawmakers, have called on Biden to allow a different candidate to take the party’s nomination. But on the record, no lawmaker has said they want Biden off the ticket.

“There is no lack of talent or capacity in the Democratic Party. But there is a lack of coherence and confidence,” Klein wrote. “What is the party for? Newsom’s comments on Thursday implied that the party’s function was to support Biden.”

Klein was one of the earliest voices in major media to argue that Biden shouldn’t run again.

He argued that beyond Biden himself, blame for his campaign’s precarious position lies just as much with the party establishment as anyone else.

“It was a choice to support Biden in running for re-election, despite poll after poll showing supermajorities of the American people thought he was too old to serve a second term,” he wrote Sunday.

“It was a choice, if an understandable one, for zero major Democrats to run against him in the primaries, even as polls showed majorities of Democratic voters didn’t want Biden to run again,” he continued. “It was a choice, if top Democrats and the White House believed Harris too weak to run or govern in Biden’s place, to do nothing about it.”

“But rather than act as a check on Biden’s decisions and ambitions, the party has become an enabler of them. An enforcer of them,” Klein wrote. “It is giving the American people an option they do not want and then threatening them with the end of democracy if they do not take it. Democrats like to say that democracy is on the ballot. But it isn’t. Biden is on the ballot.”

Despite the grim outlook, and polling figures that show concern about how voters reacted to the debate, Klein said he’s still optimistic about the upcoming Democratic convention.

“No path now is without risk,” he continued. “An open convention would be a risk. Nominating Harris would be a risk. To run an 81-year-old with a 38 percent approval rating who just got trounced in the first debate would be a risk.”

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