Nov 30, 2023 - Politics & Policy

“How’s that going for you”: Newsom zings DeSantis over Trump at Fox News debate

Florida Governor and Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis (L) and California Governor Gavin Newsom (R) appear on screen from the press room during a debate held by Fox News, in Alpharetta, Georgia, on November 30, 2023.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (left) and California Gov. Gavin Newsom during a debate held by Fox News in Alpharetta, Ga., on Nov. 30. Photo: Christian Monterrosa /AFP via Getty Images

In a prime-time debate Thursday often dominated by Fox News host Sean Hannity trying to stop the two from shouting over each other, California Gov. Gavin Newsom repeatedly used former President Trump against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Driving the news: Newsom came in with a theme — that DeSantis is "trying to out-Trump Trump" in the GOP 2024 presidential primary race — and hammered the point home.

  • "You're trying to find migrants and play political games to get some news attention so you can out-Trump Trump, and by the way, how's that going for you, Ron?" Newsom said.
  • "You're down 41 points in your own home state," Newsom said, hitting the Florida governor over his inability to break Trump's strong lead in the Republican presidential primary polling.

Newsom repeatedly denied DeSantis' accusations that he's running a "shadow campaign" in 2024.

  • "There's one thing ... that we have in common is that neither of us will be the nominee for our party in 2024," Newsom said.
  • "When are you going to drop out and give Nikki Haley a shot to win?" Newsom asked DeSantis, citing the insurgent campaign of the former UN ambassador.

Zoom in: DeSantis criticized Newsom, who has emerged as a key surrogate for President Biden's re-election campaign, over his state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and his handling of crime, among other hot-button social issues.

  • Newsom defended the president's policies and offered a staunch support of Bidenomics, drawing criticism from DeSantis.
  • "He's joined at the hip with Biden and [Vice President Kamala] Harris," DeSantis said, adding that "what California represents is the Biden-Harris agenda on steroids."
  • Newsom pointedly criticized DeSantis' incorrect pronunciation of Harris' first name, saying he should show more respect for the vice president.

The big picture: DeSantis and Newsom, two governors with strong national profiles, have had an ongoing public feud over cultural issues, hitting each other in advertisements and trading attacks on social media.

  • Their tension was on display Thursday night and the debate featured personal insults and attacks over each other's handling of social issues.
  • Fox News' Sean Hannity asked the two governors to let the "debate breathe" after they repeatedly talked over each other, adding that he doesn't want to be a "hall monitor."

The bottom line: Newsom repeatedly defended the Biden administration and gave it an "A" for its record so far.

  • "I will take Joe Biden at 100 versus Ron DeSantis any day of the week at any age," Newsom said.

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