December 4, 2023

In a shock itinerary change, California Gov. Gavin Newsom is stopping Friday in Israel on his solution to a deliberate journey to China, visiting the country-at-war with no official diplomatic agenda and elevating extra questions on his long-speculated presidential ambitions.

In a social media post Thursday, Newsom mentioned he can be assembly “with these impacted by the horrific terrorist assaults and providing California’s help.”

Newsom’s journey comes simply two days after President Biden grew to become the primary sitting U.S. president to go to Israel throughout a warfare and a day after New York’s Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul spent two days there, assembly with households in addition to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Newsom’s go to is welcome information to Galia Mizrahi, a 55-year Southern California girl who flew to Israel after two of her shut kin — a father and daughter — have been killed and his spouse and three different youngsters have been taken hostage throughout the lethal Hamas assault and bloodbath two weeks in the past.

“Any trustworthy candidate’s help is useful for morale,” Mizrahi, from Tarzana, mentioned in a cellphone name from Israel on Thursday, “and anybody who’s prepared to place themselves on the market and meet with households and hug somebody and inform them that they’re right here to pay attention with out judgment issues.”

Political observers say Newsom’s journey is politically dangerous — he doesn’t need to be seen as an opportunist — however the journey may bolster his worldwide credentials ought to he change into a presidential contender. It can additionally present Newsom fodder for a televised debate deliberate for Nov. 30 with GOP presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who made information this week by utilizing state cash to constitution flights to Israel to convey dwelling stranded Floridians totally free.

David McCuan, Sonoma State professor and chair of the political science division, mentioned Newsom is wanting past Sacramento.

“He’s attempting to do what I might argue is the Newsom ‘two-step’,” mentioned McCuan, who mentioned Newsom is attempting to point out help for the Biden administration with out ruffling feathers. “For a man who is just not operating for president, he certain acts like he’s operating.”

Biden, 80, is operating for a second time period, and Vice President Kamala Harris, California’s former legal professional basic and former U.S. Senator, is an previous pal of Newsom’s since their days in San Francisco the place he was mayor and she or he was district legal professional.

President Joe Biden, middle left, pauses throughout a gathering with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, middle proper, in Tel Aviv on October 18. 

Newsom has adamantly denied he’s within the White Home, however “he’s in a spot the place if one thing occurs, he’s prepared to fill the breach,” McCuan mentioned. “He is also somebody who doesn’t go off the nationwide stage even when he’s termed out in 2026. … So that is nonetheless about constructing energy.”

Newsom is just not the primary California governor to go to a war-torn nation. In 2009, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger visited Iraq to satisfy with American troops there, and in 1971, Gov. Ronald Reagan flew along with his spouse and son to Vietnam to ship a message from President Nixon congratulating the nation’s president on his re-election.

Newsom’s roundabout journey to China — one pundit says its like “flying from San Jose to Sacramento by the use of Chicago” — follows a visit by Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer. Schumer chastised the China overseas minister “for exhibiting no sympathy or his help for the Israeli individuals” after the assaults. Throughout Newsom’s weeklong journey to China, visiting three cities and two provinces, he can be discussing local weather change, electrical autos, financial growth and different points.

What precisely Newsom can be doing in Israel on Friday and whether or not he was particularly invited is unclear. However the governor says his journey is about supporting Israel and the victims there. California is sending medical provides to the area, his workplace mentioned, together with provisions supposed for the Gaza Strip.

“It’s each the politically good factor to do and the proper factor to do,” mentioned Dan Schnur, professor of politics and communications at UC Berkeley and USC. “California has a really vital Jewish inhabitants, and for a political chief to point out solidarity with Israel proper now sends a vital message.”

It additionally sends a message to Republican voters who understand Newsom as not more than a knee-jerk San Francisco liberal who has let homelessness thrive in his dwelling metropolis. Newsom’s journey exhibits that help for Israel is bipartisan.