Govs. DeSantis, Newsom hold public debate with tense opposing politics

The two governors from different sides of the country were expected to see the public debate as a way to boost their messaging and political careers.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Posted at 9:33 PM, Nov 30, 2023

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis debated Thursday night, even though Newsom has not announced he will run in the 2024 race for the White House. 

The two began in a clash over expected topics, including U.S. border security, in a not-so-surprisingly combative and tense debate. 

They are two U.S. governors from different political parties and opposite sides of the country. The two have experienced a growing rivalry while in office, with very different views on the policy shaping the American political landscape. 

In the hours before the highly anticipated debate hosted by Fox News' Sean Hannity, it wasn't quite clear if the exchanges during the event would be lively, contentious, or a mix of both. As the debate started, though, it was clear that the two were going to disagree on nearly every topic as they talked over each other through most of their exchanges. 

At one point, Newsom thew out a jab insulting DeSantis' presidential bid when he said, "How’s that going for you, Ron? You're down 41 points in your own home state." 

Newsom is backing Biden for president. 

Newsom told DeSantis, "Neither of us will be the nominee for a party in 2024."

The event, dubbed the "Great Red vs. Blue State Debate," laid out the goal of not only promoting both lawmakers' political careers, but it was seen as a possible chance for Newsom and DeSantis to expose issues they see with each other's ideas on how the country should be run. 

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The two governors are considered among some of the most politically polarizing figures in modern American governance, and Thursday's debate had been a while in the making. 

Newsom first challenged DeSantis to a debate late last year when he called him a "small, pathetic man," after DeSantis claimed California residents were "fleeing" the state in droves, blaming Newsom's administration for troubles in the state. 

DeSantis said Thursday night that Newsom is "the first governor to ever lose population." DeSantis claimed that California ran out of rented moving trucks from one popular company "because so many people were leaving," he asserted. 

Fox said the debate would "highlight a variety of issues in each state, including the economy, the border, immigration, crime, and inflation."

Pundits noted that Thursday's debate benefited from not having an audience as it allowed for the absence of unnecessary pauses for applause from in-person supporters. The two politicians didn't have an opportunity to play to the crowd, but instead had to focus all of their attention on each other and the moderator, with a faster pace to the entire event. 

There was a marked difference between what was at stake for each of the debaters on the stage as Newsom wasn't running for any political office, while DeSantis faces a competitive GOP field as he attempts to gain ground against former President Donald Trump in the race for the 2024 Republican nomination for president.