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Column: You can relax Gavin: Biden showed he’s not a doddering old man

I was reminded of President Biden's State of the Union address, in which a grumpy old grandfather urged his worried adult children: So forget it. ”

In this case, it was the White House.

“I'm not going to walk away,” Biden insisted. He was talking about not abandoning American values. But he also heard something else:

He's not going to go out on the South Lawn and board Marine 1 and be helicoptered to a nursing home in Delaware. Not this year anyway.

Perhaps no one is more relieved than California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Mr. Newsom has expressed concerns that nearly every Democratic Party would support him if the 81-year-old president voluntarily resigns, amid growing fears that he is too stagnant and weak to serve a second term. He is at the top of the list of replacement candidates. His fiery State of the Union address should have eased the fears of many viewers.

Newsome didn't want to run this year anyway. “Subzero interest rates,” he has argued for years. And it's completely believable.

If there was an opportunity for the job now, and Newsom took it, he would definitely have to run against San Francisco's old ally, Vice President Kamala Harris. That would make him a party pariah, especially among Black women, the Democratic Party's core constituency, Newsom said privately. Therefore, he will follow Harris.

Mr. Newsom, 56 years old but still youthful with his Hollywood looks, appears to be eyeing a presidential run in 2028 in order to become a powerful figure in national politics and raise his profile. He has always been an enthusiastic Biden surrogate pushing for the president's re-election.

However, if Biden is re-elected, Harris, 59, will become Biden's number one successor in 2028. Will Newsom postpone again? No one knows, probably not even Newsom.

Mr. Newsom will likely take a Cabinet position in Energy or Interior. There, he was able to further his beloved fight against global warming.

But Newson won't go anywhere politically until he addresses California's big problems, especially homelessness. A track record is needed to sell in a battleground state where voters are instinctively suspicious of left-leaning California.

Mr. Newsom certainly got a wake-up call in last week's primary when his signature Proposition 1 performed much worse than expected. By the end of the week, it was too close to call.

The measure included a $6.4 billion bond to build more homeless treatment beds for mentally ill and substance abuse addicts. And it would redirect some existing funding away from preventive care to target people already experiencing homelessness.

As a result, Mr. Newsom has not been able to gain support from voters in his home state. And even if Biden drops out, he is in no position to run for president.

Mr. Biden's bravo performance should reduce the amount of reporters stalking the governor, asking about his intentions to run for president. Politicians are always happy to have their name mentioned as a presidential candidate. But answering the same questions the same way over and over again can be an eye-opener.

More broadly, the president's speech should dampen calls for Biden to step down.

Newsom called the speech “clear, direct and powerful” in a social media post.

Biden's State of the Union address was actually one of the best ever delivered by a president. Powerful, full of energy, and straightforward. There are no nuances. Lots of common everyday stories. It might be a little shrill for some, but it was perfect for the national moment.

He emphasized his record, looked to the future, and added some humor.

“Throughout my career, I've been told I'm too young,” Biden said with a laugh, recalling that he was elected to the Senate at age 29. “And he's been told he's too old,” he said, drawing more laughter. .

“The problems facing our country are not our age. Our ideas are years old. Hate, anger, revenge, and retaliation are the oldest concepts. But I… We cannot lead America with old ideas that only hold us back. We need a vision of the future and what can and should be done. You heard me tonight.”

Democratic lawmakers applauded. The Republicans glared.

The speech was pretty much over there and it didn't matter, but beforehand I had fantasized about a different final word.

I'm one of the wishful thinkers Times columnist Jackie Calmes mentioned last week. Before the speech, I wish Biden had stolen President Lyndon B. Johnson's classic line that ended his 1968 nationally televised speech about the Vietnam War.

“Therefore, I do not seek or intend to accept the party's nomination for another term.”

Johnson resigned on March 31, realizing that he could not overcome the growing anti-war revolt within the Democratic Party. He had just been entered into the race by New York State Senator Robert F. Kennedy. And Minnesota Sen. Eugene McCarthy has been running for weeks. Johnson may also have foreseen health problems.

Unlike Johnson, Biden's main problem is age. I never thought he was too old for the job. But millions of Americans think he is. And many may withhold their votes in November, handing the keys to the White House back to the hated Donald Trump.

Trump, 77, is about the same age as Biden. And he's a guy who is showing signs of slipping away mentally. But the MAGA cult doesn't seem to care.

Polls show Biden slightly but consistently trailing Trump.

Mr. Biden reversed this situation by using the momentum of the State of the Union address, campaigning personally and aggressively among voters, showing energy, warning of Mr. Trump's threat, and displaying humor. You will be able to do it.

One thing's for sure: Old Grandpa isn't going to leave unless voters push him to. And Newsom is happy.

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