Ready for Ro Khanna? Is the US Getting Ready for its First Indian-American President in 2024

Edited By: Shankhyaneel Sarkar

Last Updated: January 13, 2023, 12:22 IST

Sacramento, California/Washington DC, United States

Ro Khanna, according to some within the Democrats, would make a ‘great’ senator and also should consider a run for the White House if Biden does not run (Image: Reuters)

Ro Khanna’s political donations to democrat campaigners and his digs at Pete Buttegieg show that the California congressman has national ambitions

California congressman Representative Ro Khanna earlier this week signalled that he is weighing a Senate bid in California but in Democrat party circles there are rumours that Khanna could be aiming higher, news outlet Politico said in a report.

People familiar with Khanna, the Indian-American congressman, said he is keeping his options open for a potential presidential run in 2028 but if US President Joe Biden does not run in 2024, he could mount a challenge.

A consultant for Khanna pointed out that if Biden does not want to run for president in 2024 then Khanna appears to be a “plausible candidate”. Mark Longabaugh, a Democratic strategist whose firm did media consulting for Khanna also told the news outlet that Khanna would also make a “great senator”.

The report also said that Ro Khanna has retained Democrat officials who are “veterans of New Hampshire and Nevada primaries” and also paid an Iowa firm.

Khanna has said he will support President Biden if the latter decides to run and said even if the latter does not go for a reelection, Khanna will not run for the White House.

Khanna told the news outlet that progressives within the Democrats and Bernie Sanders supporters have reached out to him and encouraged him to announce a run for the Senate. “I’ve told them I will do so over the next few months,” Khanna was quoted as saying by Politico.

A campaign official who previously worked with Vermont senator Bernie Sanders pointed out that Khanna has shown his interest for Iowa and it could be that the California congress could be “laying the groundwork for any potential future national bids.”

His donations also point that he could be laying the groundwork for a national bid. Politico said he paid $22,000 last year to Sanders’ former New Hampshire state director, Shannon Jackson; $25,000 to the Sanders-founded progressive group Our Revolution for digital advertising; and $8,000 each to political firms in Nevada and Iowa. The money in Iowa was used for setting up meetings with labour leaders in the state.

Jackson told the news outlet that he is helping him build relationships with pro-Sanders activists on a national as well as state level and said he will not run in 2024 but he is one of the leading politicians who can build on the work done by Bernie Sanders.

The report also pointed out that Khanna, despite being a relative newcomer to the scene, remains comfortable in liberal circles and is also a regular in Fox News news programmes. He remains one of the leading progressive leaders within the Democratic Party.

The Politico report pointed out that Khanna is showcasing his differences with another up and coming possible presidential contender US Transport Minister Pete Buttigieg.

When Southwest Airlines suffered a holiday season meltdown and some 15,000 flights were delayed, he advised transport secretary Buttegieg to not be ‘buddies’ with the aviation industry.

“The Department of Transportation’s job is not to be buddy-buddy with airlines,” Khanna tweeted. However, when questioned regarding his tweet, he said he would have had the same response, irrespective of who is handling the role.

A veteran Democratic campaign specialist, Dan Kanninen, who has worked on presidential campaigns, told Politico that Khanna’s comments tend to show a proxy war going on between him and Buttegieg.

Khanna continues to say that his criticism of the transport secretary was not done keeping an eye on politics.

Khanna’s call for ‘economic patriotism’ is also likely to earn him support. He said the US needs a “production renaissance” that will be fuelled by a “new economic patriotism.”

He said this is the new message that Dems should “adopt post-President Biden’s eight years.”

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