“He may may want to familiarise himself with Miami, Florida and his homicide rates,” Mr Newsom fired back.
In the GOP presidential debate on Wednesday night, Florida Governor Mr DeSantis claimed that Los Angeles and San Francisco are not safe places to live.
“We can’t be successful as a country if people aren’t even safe to live in places like Los Angeles and San Francisco,” Mr DeSantis said.
“Just being in Southern California over the last couple of days, my wife and I have met three people who have been mugged on the street, and that would have never happened 10 or 20 years ago.”
Following the debate, Mr Newsom hit back at the Florida governor’s claims – arguing that crime rates in Florida’s Jacksonville and Miami actually exceed those of San Francisco.
Speaking to CNN’s Dana Bash, Mr Newsom said Mr DeSantis should “familiarise” himself with crime statistics “in his own backyard,” emphasising that Florida’s crime homicide rates are “16 percent” higher than in California overall.
“This may be an opportunity to look up Jacksonville, Florida, and he may want to familiarise himself with Miami, Florida and his homicide rates which are 100 per cent higher than San Francisco,” he said.
“Crime rates in his own backyard, he has a higher homicide rate statewide – 16 per cent – than the state of California.”
Mr Newsom went on to list off several Republican-led states that also have higher crime rates than California – but which Mr DeSantis has neglected to condemn.
When Ms Bash challenged Mr Newsom’s argument, pointing out that San Francisco is also grappling with crime issues, he responded: “Crime is a real issue, but I find the hypocrisy and unwillingness to be honest with the American people, and the unwillingness of Ron DeSantis to take responsibility for his own crime rates in his own major cities. I find that to be curious but not surprising.”
The California governor’s words earned him praise on X, formerly known as Twitter. One person tweeted: “Gavin Newsom is really really good.”
Another person added: “Handled masterfully, but I suspect his whole story is made up in the first place.”
While Miami has a higher violent crime rate than San Francisco, violent and property crime rates in San Francisco are indeed higher than in Jacksonville, according to data from Best Places.
Mr DeSantis’ claims came days after Fox News announced Sean Hannity would host a debate between the Florida governor and Mr Newsom – despite the fact that Mr Newsom is not running for president.
Mr Newsom told CNN that he was “baited” by Mr DeSantis to debate him, which he said is a sign Mr DeSantis is “completely unqualified to be president”.
“Why is he doing it?” Mr Newsom asked. “The fact that he took this debate, the fact that he took the bait in relation to this debate, shows he’s completely unqualified to be president of the United States. Why is he debating a guy who’s not even running for president when he’s running for president?”
Mr Newsom added: “This guy is distracted, so I don’t know that he has it in his heart.
“Here’s my personal opinion about Ron DeSantis – he regrets running for president. He made a huge mistake. He listened to his consultants, he bought his own hype, he had this little God complex… He bought into all this stuff, and he quickly regretted it, but he’s stuck.”
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