Newsom and DeSantis present two very different debate proposals

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) are not on the same page for their proposed debate.

Newsom and DeSantis are already polar opposites when it comes to major issues like gun reform, abortion rights, immigration, and education, and have been trading barbs for months. In June, Fox News host Sean Hannity asked Newsom if he would ever debate DeSantis, who is also a Republican candidate for president. Newsom said yes, and sent proposed terms to Hannity in late July, writing that the event “will be marketed as a Red vs. Blue debate that is focused on the impact of representation at the state level.”

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Hannity would be the moderator, Newsom said, and the two governors would be the only speakers. The 90-minute debate would air live on Fox News, with Newsom and DeSantis each having four minutes to deliver an opening statement. They would not be allowed to come in with any notes or documents, and there would not be an audience in the room with them. Newsom suggested holding the event in Nevada, Georgia or North Carolina and said he is available on Nov. 8 or Nov. 10.

DeSantis told Hannity last Wednesday that he was open to debating Newsom, adding, “This is a debate for the future of our country.” He submitted his proposal to the host on Friday, and said he wants the event to take place in front of a live audience split evenly between both sides. DeSantis does not want any opening remarks, and instead proposed the governors should put together two-minute videos, approved by Fox News, to play at the start of the event.

DeSantis’ counterproposal is “a joke,” Nathan Click, a spokesman for Newsom, said in a statement, and it 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.” DeSantis, he continued, “should be able to stand on his own two feet. It’s no wonder Trump is kicking his ass.”

Eric Ting, politics editor at SFGate, wrote that DeSantis had been smart to avoid debating Newsom, as “it would be bizarre for someone polling at second place in a presidential primary to debate against someone on the sidelines.” When DeSantis finally accepted the invitation, it was because his presidential campaign is “bleeding staff, money and support in the polls,” Ting added. “He needs something, anything, to give his campaign life. Debating Newsom looks like an act of desperation because it is one.”

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