5 Takeaways From the DeSantis-Newsom Debate

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For an hour and a half on Thursday evening, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Gov. Gavin Newsom of California shouted at and interrupted one another, making an attempt to go away an impression on Fox Information viewers past the din of their slugfest.

The talk in Alpharetta, Ga., was an opportunity for Mr. DeSantis to carry the highlight with out different candidates for the Republican presidential nomination on the stage. It was an opportunity for Mr. Newsom to convey his clean persona and fast wit to a nationwide — and conservative — viewers.

Listed below are 5 takeaways.

The talk’s moderator, Sean Hannity, wished the evening to be a showdown between the liberal governor of essentially the most populous state within the nation and the conservative governor of the third most populous state over starkly totally different views of governance.

From the start, Mr. Hannity pressed Mr. Newsom on his state’s excessive tax charges, its lack of residents over the previous two years and its comparatively larger crime price. And Mr. DeSantis backed up the moderator in his challenges to how California is run.

It was an odd, mismatched dialog, since Mr. Newsom, who is just not working for president, tried onerous to give attention to the 2024 marketing campaign during which Mr. DeSantis is at the moment working. Mr. Newsom talked up President Biden’s report on the financial system, well being care and immigration and took swipes at Mr. DeSantis’s flagging marketing campaign within the face of former President Donald J. Trump’s dominance.

“We’ve got one factor in widespread: Neither of us would be the nominee for our social gathering in 2024,” Mr. Newsom stated early within the debate, solely to observe later with a left hook about Mr. Trump’s polling lead in Florida. “How’s that going for you, Ron?” he taunted. “You’re down 41 factors in your individual state.”

An exasperated Mr. Hannity requested Mr. Newsom at one level: “Is Joe Biden paying you tonight? I believed this was state versus state.”

By means of three Republican main debates, Mr. DeSantis has struggled to make an impression on a crowded stage with a number of deft campaigners. On Thursday evening, a distinct Mr. DeSantis was onstage.

He saved Mr. Newsom on his heels for a lot of the evening. With Mr. Hannity’s assist, he hit Mr. Newsom on topic after topic: crime, immigration, taxes, schooling.

And he appeared ready. When Mr. Newsom predictably introduced up Mr. DeSantis’s fruitless warfare with Disney, the Florida governor didn’t defend his actions however went after his California counterpart over his Covid insurance policies: “You had Disney closed inexplicably for greater than a 12 months,” he stated.

If Mr. DeSantis wished to take the sheen off the Golden State, Mr. Newsom appeared decided to bury Mr. DeSantis’s White Home aspirations. The Californian was definitive in dismissing hypothesis that he was working for president, and was simply as definitive in saying the Floridian was going nowhere.

“Joe Biden shall be our nominee in a matter of weeks,” Mr. Newsom stated earlier than including of Mr. DeSantis, “In a matter of weeks, he shall be endorsing Donald Trump.”

It was not a one-off jab. Mr. Newsom instructed his onstage rival that “Donald Trump laid you out” on Florida’s preliminary Covid restrictions. He accused Mr. DeSantis of caving to the far proper in lifting the restrictions and permitting tens of hundreds of Floridians to die.

Mr. Newsom invoked Nikki Haley, the previous South Carolina governor and one in every of Mr. DeSantis’s opponents for the Republican nomination, when he stated the Florida governor opposed fracking.

“You had been celebrated by the Sierra Membership for that motion till you weren’t,” he stated.

To conclude the controversy, Newsom caught within the knife: “When are you going to drop out and provides Nikki Haley an opportunity to tackle Donald Trump?” he requested. “She laid you out.”

As the controversy started, Mr. Hannity allowed that he was a conservative, however stipulated that as a moderator, he can be honest and nonpartisan.

About an hour later, he started one query with this assertion: “Joe Biden has skilled vital cognitive decline.”

Truthful he wasn’t.

Protestations apart, Mr. Hannity didn’t even attempt to be evenhanded. Many times, he served up softballs to Mr. DeSantis, whereas shutting down Mr. Newsom’s makes an attempt to defend himself.

And he trotted out a sequence of well-prepared graphics to point out Florida in the absolute best gentle, and California within the worst: on schooling, crime, tax charges and inhabitants loss and acquire. Mr. Newsom tried to rebut these graphics, however all Mr. DeSantis needed to do was flip to the graphics to say the Californian was a slick spinmeister.

The California governor wished to shine a rosy gentle on Mr. Biden’s report earlier than a Fox Information viewers unused to listening to something constructive concerning the president.

Inflation was down to three.2 %, he famous. Wage progress had topped 4 %, and financial progress within the final quarter was a blistering 5.2 %, he stated, including, “These are details you don’t hear on Fox Information.”

However in a two-on-one battle, these details most likely didn’t get by, particularly when each the moderator and the Florida governor had been double-teaming Mr. Newsom on their repeated assertions of the president’s cognitive decline. Mr. Newsom didn’t provide you with a very good protection on the matter, although he did say he would take Mr. Biden at 100 years previous over Mr. DeSantis at any age within the White Home.

Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Hannity additionally teamed up on the risks of an uncontrolled border, and when Mr. Newsom tried to hit Mr. DeSantis on having gladly taken cash from Mr. Biden’s signature achievements, together with hundreds of thousands of {dollars} from the legislation he signed to advertise a home semiconductor business and revive business science, Mr. Hannity simply moved the dialog alongside.