Seems the California Democratic Governor was wrestling with both Florida GOP Governor DeSantis and moderator Republican Hannity….
The NY Times…..
[Coverage on this live blog has ended. Read the key takeaways from the event.]
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Gov. Gavin Newsom of California sparred in a surprisingly lively debate on Fox News, disagreeing over taxes, immigration, crime, guns, abortion and Covid in a clash that felt at times like an alternate-reality interlude during the 2024 presidential race.
Mr. Newsom used the platform to burnish his standing as a future national figure for the Democratic Party while Mr. DeSantis took swings at his Democratic counterpart with the kind of unrestrained verve that has been missing from his Republican primary debate performances. The clear goal for Mr. DeSantis was to reinvigorate his flagging candidacy against the front-runner, former President Donald J. Trump.
“By the way, how’s that going for you, Ron?” Mr. Newsom snapped. Mr. DeSantis forced a smile but didn’t speak, as Mr. Newsom continued, “You’re down 41 points in your own home state.”
Mr. Newsom had predicted that the debate, moderated by Sean Hannity, the conservative anchor, would amount to a two-on-one contest. That proved mostly true as Mr. Hannity prefaced numerous questions with an array of statistics that presented Florida in a more favorable light than California. At times, the debate devolved into stretches of unintelligible cross talk, but the two men’s disdain was apparent as Mr. DeSantis called Mr. Newsom “slick” and “slippery” and Mr. Newsom said at one point, “You’re nothing but a bully.”
Here are some highlights:
Mr. DeSantis flashed the tough-guy persona he built during the first term of his governorship but that has been mostly missing from his presidential primary run. It felt as if he threw nearly as many sharp elbows at Mr. Newsom in the very first minute as he has at Mr. Trump in the first three Republican debates combined. “You almost have to try to mess California up,” Mr. DeSantis said, citing net migration out of the state and later invoking Mr. Newsom’s in-laws as among those who have moved to Florida.
One of the fiercer sparring sessions came over their governance during the pandemic. “You should apologize for not getting your kids in school,” Mr. DeSantis told Mr. Newsom about school closures. Mr. Newsom tried to attack Mr. DeSantis from different directions almost simultaneously — both for reopening his state against the guidelines of health authorities, causing what he said was excess deaths, but also for following that guidance early on. “You were the shutdown governor,” Mr. Newsom said.
The two men disagreed sharply over abortion. Mr. Hannity tried to make Mr. Newsom state that he was not in favor of any restrictions on abortions, even in the final months of pregnancy. Mr. Newsom pressed Mr. DeSantis to say whether he would sign a six-week national abortion ban like the one he put into law in Florida. Mr. DeSantis wouldn’t answer, which Mr. Newsom said amounted to a clear yes.
Mr. Newsom repeatedly defended President Biden, both his agenda and his mental state. Mr. DeSantis said Mr. Biden was in clear decline and argued that Mr. Newsom would privately agree. “That’s why he’s running his shadow campaign,” Mr. DeSantis said. Mr. Newsom asked Mr. DeSantis why he wouldn’t drop out to give Nikki Haley a better shot at taking down Mr. Trump. “She laid you out,” Mr. Newsom said toward the end of the debate. Earlier, Mr. Newsom unfurled one of the evening’s more memorable lines on that topic. “We have one thing in common,” Mr. Newsom said, “neither of us will be the nominee for our party in 2024.”