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U.S. President Joe Biden, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Jennifer Lynn Siebel Newsom wave to the crowd as they campaign to keep the governor in office at Long Beach City College on the eve of the last day of the special election to recall the governor on September 13, 2021, in Long Beach, California.Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

(LifeSiteNews) — U.S. President Joe Biden might have said the quiet part out loud last week when he praised California’s radical leftist Gov. Gavin Newsom – who many believe is running a poorly concealed shadow campaign for the U.S. presidency – and suggested the pro-abortion governor “could have the job I’m looking for.”

“I want to thank him. He’s been one hell of a governor, man,” Biden said of Newsom at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

“Matter of fact, he can be anything he wants – he could have the job I’m looking for,” the president joked.

Or was it a joke?

The 81-year-old Biden, the assumed Democratic nominee in the 2024 presidential contest, faces down an impeachment inquiry concerning his and his family’s alleged involvement in overseas corruption. The oldest president the U.S. has ever had, Biden is also under persistent scrutiny from both conservatives and liberals with regard to his advanced age and related ability to continue carrying out the job of Commander-in-Chief.

Moreover, the president’s approval rating is at a meager 40% per recent polls, and most Democrats report they don’t want to have to pull the lever for him in 2024. 

On Thursday, CBS Sacramento noticed that Biden’s favorable comments concerning Newsom had “fueled speculation” about the Golden State governor’s “presidential plans.”

Though Newsom has repeatedly waved away rumors that he’s vying for the White House anytime soon, the 56-year-old California executive has taken virtually every opportunity to inject himself into national politics. 

With a generous supply of political know-how and plenty of hair gel, Newsom has catapulted himself into the national conversation and set himself up as the antagonist to Florida’s Republican governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis.

As LifeSiteNews has noted, the two governors have frequently taken opposite positions on a number of high-profile cultural issues. 

READ: Americans beware: Gavin Newsom as president would be more disastrous than Biden

While Newsom has defended the use of sexually inappropriate books in schools, for example, DeSantis has sought to curb the availability of explicit and inappropriate content in classrooms and school libraries. Newsom has openly advertised his state as a haven for abortion (even inviting pregnant moms from other states to travel to California for abortions), while DeSantis opposes taxpayer funding of abortion and signed a bill to prohibit abortion once a baby’s heartbeat can be detected.

The pair have also clashed over immigration policy, with Newsom accusing DeSantis of “kidnapping” for sending illegal immigrants to California. Meanwhile, the Golden State has enacted laws to make itself a “sanctuary state.”

In addition, the governors implemented vastly opposite strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic. While Newsom kept his state under tight lockdown and pushed for vaccine mandates, DeSantis rolled back his statewide lockdown early in the pandemic and fought private and public jab requirements.

And while DeSantis has vigorously opposed the influence of the Chinese Communist Party, Newsom last month traveled to meet CCP dictator Xi Jinping in Beijing and this month welcomed him with open arms to San Francisco, even clearing the city’s homelessness- and crime-ridden streets to roll out the red carpet for the communist leader.

Video of the state police, California’s finest, escorting the Chinese dictator into the iconic American city with red and yellow Chinese flags a-waving evoked, at least to this writer, unpleasant recollections of the footage of Hitler and his army marching through Paris … and it’s given many conservatives an equally unpleasant premonition of what the future may have in store for a geopolitically weakened America.

Despite the many leftist approaches to crucial national issues, though, Newsom has seemed to make an effort to stake out some more moderate positions in recent months, remarking he would have “done everything differently” if he had COVID to do over again, and vetoing a hotly controversial bill that had critics worried it would allow California to seize custody of kids whose parents refused to let them chop up their body parts to make themselves look like the opposite sex.

READ: Newsom vetoes bill requiring judges to consider whether parents ‘affirm’ child’s gender confusion

The dueling governors from America’s opposite coasts are slated to debate one another at the end of the month in a head-to-head moderated by Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

Observers have raised eyebrows over the pair’s social media potshots and impending public debate, pointing out that former U.S. President Donald Trump leads DeSantis in the Republican primary by a country mile and Newsom has frequently attempted to shoot down speculation concerning his interest in securing the nation’s highest office for himself.

But both men may be eyeing a future in which the leaders in both of their parties might find themselves no longer willing or able to take their candidacy to the finish line.

Could the elderly Joe Biden suffer an unfortunate health scare (or worse), leading to an awkward press briefing notifying the public of Scranton Joe’s unplanned withdrawal of his ambitions for a second term?

For that matter, could Donald Trump find himself convicted of any of the seemingly countless criminal charges hurled at him, limiting his capability to retake the White House as he tries to campaign from behind bars (as unlikely as that seems to be, given that the prosecutions thus far appear to have done nothing to hinder his chances of nabbing the nomination)?

READ: Exporting dystopia: Gavin Newsom’s plan to make red states more like California

While even the savviest of political prognosticators can’t say yet whether either of those outcomes will materialize, Newsom and DeSantis seem to think they have a shot at superseding their party’s likeliest picks as the race for 2024 heats up.

And, given Biden’s recent remarks, it seems as though even the president himself may be squinting into the horizon and seeing his future in the White House vanish into the ether.