California governor Gavin Newsom labels DeSantis debate terms ‘a joke’

Mr Newsom likened Mr DeSantis’s stipulations to ‘crutches’ and a ‘cheat sheet’

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 08 August 2023 16:34 EDT

Ron DeSantis accepts Gavin Newson’s debate challenge on Fox News

California Governor Gavin Newsom mocked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's proposed debate rules, likening them to crutches and calling him a "joke."

Mr Newsom has repeatedly called for Mr DeSantis to debate him on policy issues, with the Florida governor only recently accepting the challenge. Mr DeSantis — who is running against Donald Trump in the GOP's 2024 presidential primary — told Fox News' Sean Hannity on Wednesday that he would duke it out with Mr Newsom, assuming they could reach an agreement on rules.

"I'm game, let's get it done, just tell me when and where," Mr DeSantis said.

While the ideologically opposed governors did find some common ground — they both agreed to have Hannity act as a moderator and they both listed Georgia as an acceptable host state for the event — Mr Newsom otherwise rejected Mr DeSantis's proposals, Politico reports.

The Florida governor's team asked that opening statements be replaced with pre-recorded videos, and that the venue include a live audience rather than a debate in an empty room, according to Politico Playbook.

Mr Newsom's spokesperson called the stipulations a "crutch" and laid into Mr DeSantis.

Election 2024 DeSantis Newsom

“What a joke,” Mr Newsom's spokesperson, Nathan Click, said in a statement. “Desantis’ counterproposal is littered with crutches to hide his insecurity and ineptitude — swapping opening statements with a hype video, cutting down the time he needs to be on stage, adding cheat notes and a cheering section.”

He added that "Ron should be able to stand on his own two feet," and that "it's no wonder Trump is kicking his a**."

Mr Newsom's rule proposal — which he issued in late July — included no audience, live opening statements, and suggested venues in Georgia, Nevada, or North Carolina.

While Mr DeSantis suggested dates spanning the fall — from 19 September through 8 November — Mr Newsom only offered November dates for a possible debate.

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