Newsom trolls DeSantis over flailing 2024 bid in hostile Fox News debate

Florida governor trails former president Donald Trump in 2024 race

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Thursday 14 December 2023 18:26 GMT
Newsom trolls DeSantis over 2024 campaign at Fox News debate

During a fierce debate hosted by Fox News on Thursday night, California governor Gavin Newsom took a shot at opponent Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s 2024 presidential campaign, telling viewers that “neither of us will be the nominee for our party in 2024.”

According to a 538 average of Republican presidential polls, Donald Trump has 60 per cent support from GOP voters, nearly six times that of his nearest rival, Mr DeSantis, whose support has declined precipitiously since the beginning of the year.

The Fox debate, framed by host Sean Hannity as the “Great Red vs Blue State debate,” at times felt like a quasi-presidential debate.

Mr DeSantis hammered the California leader as practically a third member of the Biden White House, while Mr Newsom painted the Florida governor as a secret moderate corrupted by the Trumpian “fringe” of the GOP.

“What California represents is the Biden-Harris agenda on steroids,” the Florida Republican said at one point. “They would love nothing more than to get four more years to take the California model national.”

Mr DeSantis criticised California for high gas prices, higher top tax rates than Florida, and for aggressively shutting down public institutions like schools during the beginning of the pandemic.

He also alleged that the Democratic agenda regarding the US-Mexico border has allowed fentanyl to spread across the US.

“This is the vision of Biden-Harris-Newsom,” Mr DeSantis said. “Open borders. Americans will continue to suffer.”

Mr Newsom, meanwhile, tore into the Florida leader for his controversial 2022 ploy to round up border-crossers and send them to liberal jurisdictions in California and Massachusetts under misleading pretenses.

“You are trolling folks and trying to find migrants to play political games so you can get some news and attention so you can out-Trump Trump,” Mr Newson said. “By the way, how is that going for you, Ron? You are down 41 points in your own home state.”

The Florida governor blamed California sanctuary cities, which forbid state resources from being used for federal immigration enforcement, for allowing migrants to remain in the state who have since committed crimes, accusing California of “thumbing their nose at federal immigration law.”

“The minute they have to deal with the consequences,” Mr DeSantis said, oh man, hell breaks lose.”

Mr Newsom, meanwhile, defended both his and the Biden administration’s record on the economy.

“The Biden administration in the last three years has been masterclass in job creation,” Governor Newsom said, pointing to strong job growth in the US, despite inflation hitting a four-decade high last year.

The California governor also said Mr DeSantis fell under the sway of extreme elements of his party when it came to responding to Covid, abandoning initial lockdowns.

“He did all of that until he decided to fall prey to the fringe inside of his party,” Mr Newsom said. “As a consequence of that, Ron, tens of thousands of people lost their lives.”

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