California Governor Gavin Newsom said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis “took the bait” by agreeing to debate later this year.
In an August interview with Hannity, DeSantis accepted Newsom’s year-long debate challenge saying “I’m game.”
Newsom and DeSantis’ debate has been scheduled for Nov. 30.
Prior to Wednesday’s second Republican primary debate, FOX 11’s Elex Michaelson interviewed Newsom and questioned why he was debating DeSantis.
“I don’t know if that’s the right question,” Newsom responded, adding, “Why is he doing it is the right question.”
“The fact that he took the bait in relation to this debate,” Newsom said, also noting critics have suggested DeSantis is unqualified to be President of the United States. “That’s my humble personal opinion.”
Michaelson repeated Newsom’s statement asking, “You’re baiting him with the debate offer?”
“Of course,” Newsom responded. “I mean, why is he debating a guy who’s not even running for President when he’s running for President?”
"The fact he took the bait…shows he's completely unqualified to be President."
"Why is he debating a guy who is not even running for President?"
"My…opinion, he regrets running…he made a huge mistake." pic.twitter.com/ObzjQzEB6Y
— Elex Michaelson (@Elex_Michaelson) September 28, 2023
“He’s showing up at the Reagan Library, hallowed ground, and he puts out an ad today, not for his presidential campaign, [but] to promote a debate against the governor of California,” he said.
Newsom said DeSantis was “distracted.”
“I don’t know that he has it in his heart,” he said, adding he believes DeSantis “regrets” launching a presidential campaign. “He made a huge mistake. He listened to his consultants. He bought his own hype.”
The California governor said DeSantis had a “God complex” and criticized the Florida governor’s campaign ads.
“He bought into all this stuff,” Newsom continued. “He quickly regretted it, but he’s stuck.”
Newsom suggested DeSantis “bellyflopped” his first impression on the national stage as a presidential candidate: “It’s a terrible situation for him.”
Newsom initially challenged DeSantis to a debate last September after former CBS anchor Dan Rather suggested it would garner “big ratings,” though the Florida governor did not respond.
During a June interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, the California governor renewed his challenge, saying he was “all in” for a debate with the Florida governor. DeSantis told Newsom to “stop pussyfooting around” and suggested the California governor should “throw [his] hat in the ring and primary President Biden in the 2024 presidential election.”
During a Tuesday interview with Newsmax, DeSantis said Florida has already won the upcoming debate against Newsom because “people have voted with their feet.”
DeSantis noted Californians had fled the state to move to Florida, though Floridians had not left for California.
“He has lost massive amounts of population,” DeSantis said. “No governor in California history has ever witnessed population loss at all on net.”
“The future for the country, for what the left would want to do, is just double down on the California policies,” he continued. “I think it’s going to be an important debate.”
DeSantis said he thought Newsom was “definitely angling” for a presidential run, though added Biden wouldn’t “willingly” step down.
“I think it’s harder to dislodge somebody who’s an incumbent president than people assume it would be,” he said. “But I think the Democrat establishment really, really is concerned, particularly if they have to run against somebody like me.”