When California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) publicly issued a debate challenge to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), he probably wasn’t expecting the Sunshine State governor’s quick and confident acceptance. As a pivotal moment builds between these two influential governors, representing opposite coasts and political ideologies, the response from Newsom’s team indicates they may be on their heels.
Newsom has been at the forefront of elevating his national standing for some time now. His strategy seemed clear: target the candidate for the GOP presidential nomination and invite him to the debate stage. In June, he stated confidently on Fox News with Sean Hannity that he was “all in” for a debate, even suggesting that he only needed a single day’s notice. However, the recent debate proposal from Newsom sets the first available date three months out, contradicting his prior assertive stance.
DeSantis is going to take Newsom to the woodshed in that debate. https://t.co/9ZYf2w0Zv9
— Cryptid Politics 🇺🇸🐊 (@CryptidPolitics) August 6, 2023
DeSantis responded to the challenge on the same platform with Sean Hannity, simply stating, “Let’s get it done. Just tell me when and where we’ll do it.” This straightforward and resolute reply showcases the Florida governor’s no-nonsense approach and starkly contrasts the extended lead time proposed by Newsom.
Although the two governors agreed on several debate terms, including Hannity as the moderator and equal speaking time, they had differing views on crucial aspects. DeSantis, pushing for a more authentic and audience-engaged format, proposed that each governor provide a two-minute video instead of opening remarks. He also favored including a live audience split evenly among supporters. Meanwhile, Newsom preferred a controlled environment with no live audience.
This difference in approach led Newsom’s spokesperson, Nathan Click, to say, “What a joke,” referring to DeSantis’s suggestions. He further criticized the Florida governor, suggesting his proposals were merely “crutches to hide his insecurity and ineptitude.” Yet, a closer look reveals that most of what Newsom’s team claimed was unfounded. The debate’s length remained consistent, and both sides agreed on an equal ticket allotment for supporters.
DeSantis, who’s experienced a meteoric rise on the national stage since his first election as Florida governor, particularly for his leadership during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, countered criticisms with complex data. He pointed out the significant in-migration into Florida, while California has seen an exodus. “The debate between California and Florida is already over,” DeSantis tweeted, adding that “people have been voting with their feet for years.”
Additionally, DeSantis highlighted that the migration patterns indicate where Americans feel they can find better governance and quality of life. He emphasized that while individual states might favor specific policies, the country’s future as a whole is what’s truly at stake.
What becomes evident through this exchange is the distinct contrast in leadership styles and values represented by these two governors. DeSantis appears ready to engage, defend his state’s policies, and champion the conservative values he believes have made Florida successful. Newsom, on the other hand, while eager to challenge, seems more hesitant when called to the stage.