Governors Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Gavin Newsom (D-CA) squared off in the Fox News “Great State Debate,” hosted by Sean Hannity. Gov. DeSantis might’ve turned some heads as the event allowed for the discussion of economic policy, immigration, the California exodus, and of course, COVID.
All areas in which Gov. DeSantis thrives.
However, Gov. Newsom deserves some credit. He walked into the lion’s den that is Fox News and did his best with the questions that were not necessarily in his favor.
Yes, most would consider the questions asked fair game. But in all fairness, there wasn’t a single question asked by Hannity that put California in a positive light.
That’s not DeSantis’ fault though. He did a very good job in responding to the questions that were asked of him. He kept Newsom on his toes in a Trump fashion. Similar to the former President’s simple “Wrong” rebuttal against Hillary Clinton in 2016, DeSantis continuously called Newsom’s claims “false.” Or “not true.”
Here's the Covid section: Newsom making up lies, getting fact-checked by both DeSantis and Hannity, who shows a chart with CDC data that Newsom completely ignores. The knockout punch at the end is pretty epic:
"Gavin Newsom did huge damage to people in California. He ruined… pic.twitter.com/Wg4ybvNXV2
— Scott Morefield (@SKMorefield) December 1, 2023
At one point, Newsom said that a report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) surrounding COVID death rates showcased by Hannity was “factually untrue.”
In the background, you can hear DeSantis laughingly question Newsom by saying “The CDC?” This can be found at the 2:05 mark in the video above.
It seems as though DeSantis’ performance was what people were expecting before he jumped into the race.
Before announcing his candidacy, and more specifically during COVID, Gov. DeSantis made his name known for going on what people consider “opposition media” or left-leaning outlets. He was constantly in the news for not being afraid to take on reporters. He “never backed down” to use the words of the DeSantis Super PAC.
However, since announcing his candidacy and then going against Gov. Newsom, it appears Gov. DeSantis is much more comfortable in an ideological and philosophical debate against a liberal rather than a debate against other conservatives that have to split hairs from each other. As we’ve seen in the Republican debates this cycle, candidates have the unique challenge to not only separate themselves from each other but also separate themselves from the front-runner, Donald Trump, while simultaneously attempting to win over the large voting bloc that is the MAGA base.
It's a very strange (but unique) situation in American politics.
But longtime DeSantis fans finally got to see what they’ve been expecting all along on a debate stage: Closer to the cleverness, brashness, and personality of Trump, but with a proven record and a polished demeanor.
It seems it just took a Democrat to bring it out of him.