Florida Governor Ron DeSantis accepted California governor Gavin Newsom’s long-standing offer to debate.
Newsom initially challenged DeSantis to debate following the Florida governor’s move to send illegal migrants to Martha’s Vineyard in September 2022. DeSantis did not respond to Newsom’s challenge at the time.
During a Wednesday night Fox News segment with host Sean Hannity, DeSantis accepted Newsom’s debate challenge.
“Let’s get it done. Just tell me when and where we’ll do it,” DeSantis said to applause from the audience. “In one respect, the debate between California and Florida has already been had, as you suggest, people have been voting on that, they’ve been voting on it with their feet, they have fled California in record numbers.”
Florida has been the number one state for net in-migration. We have the number one ranked economy, number one now in education, crime rate at a 50-year-low. But in another sense, this is the debate for the future of our country because you have people like Joe Biden, they would love to see the Californication of the United States. Biden may not even be the nominee. You could have Gavin Newsom, you could have Kamala Harris. And I think if we go down that direction, that’s going to accelerate American decline. We can’t see America decline anymore. We need to reverse.
“The debate about the future of our country is one we need to have,” DeSantis posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, Wednesday night. “I’m game to talk about my plans to reverse the decline in this country anytime, anywhere, because I have the best vision for the future of our country.”
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
Prior to Newsom’s debate challenge, the California governor sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland suggesting the Florida governor may have participated in kidnapping migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard, according to a post from the Office of the Governor’s official Twitter account.
“Clearly you’re struggling, distracted, and busy playing politics with people’s lives,” Newsom told the Florida governor in a September 2022 tweet.
“Since you have only one overriding need — attention — let’s take this up & debate. I’ll bring my hair gel. You bring your hairspray. Name the time before Election Day.”
Hey @GovRonDeSantis, clearly you're struggling, distracted, and busy playing politics with people’s lives. Since you have only one overriding need — attention –let's take this up & debate. I’ll bring my hair gel. You bring your hairspray. Name the time before Election Day. @CNN https://t.co/vTJHQxfArW
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) September 16, 2022
Longtime CBS anchor Dan Rather originally proposed the idea in a Twitter post in August 2022. Rather proposed the debate to then-CNN President Chris Licht as “prime time,” saying it would garner “big ratings.” The longtime anchor questioned who between the two governors would be courageous enough to participate in the proposed debate.
“Here’s an idea for Chris Licht, the new head of @CNN. Set up a debate — one-on-one — between @GavinNewsom and @RonDeSantisFL. Two governors of big states, potential presidential candidates. Prime time. Ratings I bet would be huge. Who would have the courage to show up?”
In June, Newsom reiterated his debate challenge telling Hannity to “count on it” in a sit-down interview.
“You would do a two-hour debate with Ron DeSantis?” Hannity asked.
Newsom responded, “Make it three.”
He added: “I would do it one day’s notice with no notes. I look forward to that.”
DeSantis responded to Newsom’s June debate challenge telling the California Governor to “stop pussyfooting around.”
“Are you gonna throw your hat in the ring and challenge Joe? Are you gonna get in and do it, or are you just gonna sit on the sidelines and chirp?”