Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Wednesday said he’s ready to debate California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).
“Absolutely. I’m game, let’s get it done. Just tell me when and where,” DeSantis told Fox News host Sean Hannity, who would serve as moderator for the potential debate.
Tensions have been rising between the two governors for months, as Newsom has criticized DeSantis for sending migrants to California. DeSantis has also repeatedly taken aim at Newsom for people leaving California to move to Florida.
Newsom first challenged DeSantis to a debate last September, after the Florida governor chartered two planes of migrants that landed in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., sparking outrage from Democrats. In an interview with Hannity in June, Newsom also agreed to a debate with DeSantis hosted by the Fox News host.
“I’m all in. Count on it,” Newsom told Hannity at the time.
A spokesperson for Newsom told The Hill that the governor has been “challenging DeSantis to debate for months,” adding that Newsom sent DeSantis a formal debate offer last week for Nov. 8 or Nov. 10.
“DeSantis should put up or shut up. Anything else is just games,” the Newsom spokesperson said in a statement.
DeSantis in his remarks to Hannity on Wednesday argued he’s already winning the real debate, because Florida’s population is growing, he said, with California transplants.
“And here’s the thing Sean, I mean in one respect, the debate between California and Florida has already been had,” DeSantis said. “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 No. 1 state for net in-migration.”
“But in another sense, this is the debate for the future of our country,” said DeSantis, who is running for the GOP presidential nomination. “Because you have people like Joe Biden they would love to see the Californication of the United States.”
DeSantis then floated the idea that Newsom, who many see as a potential future Democratic candidate for president, could actually be that party’s nominee next fall.
“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,” DeSantis said.
Biden’s age — he is 80 — has led to constant speculation, especially from Republicans, on whether he’ll really run for a second term, even as his campaign raises money and hires staff.
When he was asked about debating DeSantis, Newsom showed no qualms.
“You would do a two-hour debate with Ron DeSantis?” Hannity asked him in the summer interview.
“Make it three,” Newsom responded. “I would do it one day’s notice with no notes. I look forward to that.”
The Hill has reached out to DeSantis’s campaign for comment.
–Updated at 10:42 a.m.