California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) team appears to be agitated that Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has accepted his debate challenge.
Newsom has repeatedly demanded that DeSantis debate him, but the Florida governor has mostly ignored Newsom’s challenges. The California Democrat has been attacking DeSantis for some time now in what many have speculated is an attempt to raise his national profile for a future presidential run.
During an appearance on Fox News’ “Hannity” in June, Newsom told host Sean Hannity that he was “all in” to debate DeSantis — claiming that he could debate for up to three hours and only needed “one day’s notice with no notes.”
Watch: Hannity to Newsom: “You would do a two-hour debate with Ron DeSantis?”
“Make it three,” Newsom responds. “I would do it with one day’s notice with no notes. I look forward to that.” pic.twitter.com/I5Nz7euwEY
— TV News Now (@TVNewsNow) June 13, 2023
DeSantis finally accepted that challenge on Wednesday during an interview with Hannity, and the negotiations have already begun.
“Let’s get it done,” the Florida governor said. “Just tell me when and where we’ll do it.”
The debate between California and Florida is already over. People have been voting with their feet for years.
But the debate about the future of our country is one we need to have.
I'm game to talk about my plans to reverse the decline in this country anytime, anywhere, because… pic.twitter.com/BbUKix8s5E
— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantis) August 3, 2023
Newsom has since sent a proposal to Fox News that contradicts his earlier claims — noting that his earliest available date to debate is three months out, rather than needing only “one day’s notice.”
However, both sides have agreed on a few parameters for the debate: Hannity will moderate the event, it will last 90 minutes and they will not have any help from staff. Additionally, each governor will have an equal amount of speaking time and will not be allowed to interrupt each other. They will be given two minutes for closing statements.
There are several points on which the governors have disagreed. DeSantis would prefer to focus on the debate, rather than having opening remarks. He has instead proposed that each governor submit a two-minute video to be aired prior to the event. Newsom doesn’t want the debate to have an audience, while DeSantis has proposed having a crowd that is evenly distributed — with each of them getting 50% of the tickets.
Why is Gavin Newsom afraid of debating Ron DeSantis before a live audience that's evenly split between Republicans and Democrats?
— Giancarlo Sopo (@GiancarloSopo) August 6, 2023
DeSantis has proposed two states for the event, Iowa and Georgia, while Newsom has proposed three states — Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina. The Florida governor has also proposed much earlier dates for the event, though one of the later dates he included matched the earliest date suggested by Newsom.
The California governor’s team has lashed out at DeSantis in response to the proposal — making outright false claims and arguing that wanting an audience means that the Florida governor needs a “cheering section.”
“What a joke,” a Newsom spokesperson wrote in a statement to POLITICO. “Desantis’ counterproposal is littered with crutches to hide his insecurity and ineptitude — swapping opening statements with a hype video, cutting down the time he needs to be on stage, adding cheat notes and a cheering section.”
“Ron should be able to stand on his own two feet,” the statement continued. “It’s no wonder Trump is kicking his a—.”
However, The Daily Wire has fact-checked the spokesperson’s statement, writing: “Most of what Newsom’s team said was false. DeSantis proposed the same length for the debate and the same two-minute closing statements. DeSantis did not propose being able to bring in notes and both sides would be allowed to have fans attend with equal ticket allotment.”