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If Biden doesn't run, Calif. Gov. Newsom might: Dem strategist

If Biden doesn't run, Calif. Gov. Newsom might: Dem strategist

(NewsNation) — Every time he's been asked, Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom has denied he plans to run for president in the 2024 election.

However, this has not necessarily led to an end to speculation in the political world he might throw his hat in the ring if Biden does not.

Newsom will talk with NewsNation's Chris Cuomo on "CUOMO," Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET. Not sure how to watch NewsNation? Use our ChannelFinder app to locate our channel or log in here to watch live on your phone.

A Democratic source tells NewsNation that Newsom's political strategy is to be ready to run in the 2024 presidential election if the current president drops out.

Newsom and the rest of the Democratic Party have said they are standing behind Biden in his 2024 bid.

Recently, on NBC's "Meet the Press," Newsom said people need to "move past this notion" that Biden isn't going for a second term.

“President Biden is going to run, and we’re looking forward to getting him reelected," he said in an interview earlier this month.

However, poll after poll shows voters are concerned about Biden's energy and age. Polling by NewsNation and Decision Desk HQ showed about 80% of Americans asked said they are somewhat or very concerned about Biden's age affecting his ability to serve a second term.

This could have Newsom positioning himself to be ready to enter the race. He's been crisscrossing the country, giving policy speeches and suing the world’s largest oil and gas companies.

He's even said he would debate another governor: Florida's Ron DeSantis, one of the top Republican presidential candidates after front-runner and former President Donald Trump.

As Democratic strategist Michael Starr Hopkins puts it, if Biden is out of the race, all you have to do is plug the Newsom campaign in.

"Gavin Newsom has prepared a campaign that’s plug-and-play ready, and I think that’s one of his strengths," Hopkins said. "It’s why you’ve seen him do things like being willing to debate Gov. DeSantis and go on these tours around the South. It’s so that he could prepare himself should President Biden not run or to better position himself in the next election should Biden win and then it be an open primary."

Hopkins prefaced this by saying he doesn't think Biden will drop out of the 2024 race.

Although Newsom is one of the top Democratic fundraisers, he may not yet have the name recognition to run in such a high-profile election. A YouGov survey shows he ranks 21st among Democrats in popularity — just behind Amy Klobuchar, who ran for the presidential nomination in 2020, and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who ran unsuccessfully for president, senator and governor of his state over the past five years.

Newsom's name isn't the only one being floated as a 2024 contender for the Democratic nomination. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin came in with the most support in the NewsNation/Decision Desk poll, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who's run for president before.