DeSantis, Newsom Agree to Debate

DeSantis, Newsom Agree to Debate

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in file images. (Getty Images)

Zachary Stieber

Zachary Stieber


Updated: 8/8/2023

Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis and rumored Democrat candidate Gavin Newsom have agreed to a debate.
“Absolutely, I’m game,” Mr. DeSantis, the governor of Florida, told Fox News’ Sean Hannity during an Aug. 2 program. “Let’s get it done. Just tell me when and where we’ll do it.”
Mr. Newsom, California’s governor, previously told Mr. Hannity that he would debate Mr. DeSantis, with Mr. Hannity as a moderator.
“You would do a two-hour debate with Ron DeSantis?” Mr. Hannity asked.
“Make it three,” Mr. Newsom said in an interview that aired in June. “I would do it one day’s notice with no notes. I look forward to that.”
The governors have increasingly criticized each other in recent months, with one war of words over Florida helping arrange the transport of illegal immigrants to Sacramento, a city that has pledged to be a haven for illegal aliens.
Mr. Newsom accused Florida of engaging in “state-sanctioned” kidnapping and said on Fox that what happened was a “stunt.”
“We embrace everybody here,” Mr. Newsom claimed on Fox. “They were lied to, they were misled. They were told they had jobs, they were told they were going to get certain court dates. They were dropped off, they knocked on the door, and they left, and it was not coordinated.”
Florida officials have noted that the illegal immigrants signed waivers before they were flown from the border to California.
“From left-leaning mayors in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, Colorado, the relocation of those illegally crossing the United States border is not new,” a Florida spokesperson said in a statement to news outlets. “But suddenly, when Florida sends illegal aliens to a sanctuary city, it’s false imprisonment and kidnapping.”

Debate ‘Already Been Had’

Mr. DeSantis said on Aug. 2 that he believed that domestic migration numbers show the debate has already happened for many people.
“People have been voting on that, they’ve been voting on it with their feet, they have fled California in record numbers,” Mr. DeSantis told Mr. Hannity.
“Florida has been the No. 1 state for net in-migration. We have the No. 1 ranked economy, No. 1 now in education, crime rate at a 50-year low.”
California lost about 500,000 residents from April 1, 2020, to July 1, 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Florida grew by about 700,000 people over the same period of time.
Mr. DeSantis, 44, has been governor of Florida since 2019, following several terms as a U.S. congressman. He easily won a second term in the governor’s mansion in 2022.
Mr. Newsom, 55, has been governor of California since 2019 after serving as the state’s lieutenant governor. His name has been circulated as a possible 2024 Democrat contender, particularly if President Joe Biden drops out of the race. Mr. Biden is currently running for reelection. Mr. Newsom said Mr. Biden has been delivering results, including helping get a bill funding infrastructure projects approved by Congress. Mr. Newsom declined to say whether people are asking him to run for president.

Harris Turns Down DeSantis Debate Offer

Earlier in the week, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris turned down an invitation from Mr. DeSantis to discuss the new curriculum (pdf) the state rolled out.
Ms. Harris said during a speech in Orlando on Aug. 1 that “there is no roundtable, no lecture, no invitation we will accept to debate an undeniable fact: There were no redeeming qualities of slavery.”
The new curriculum states in part that “instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” It also says, “Any attempt to reduce slaves to just victims of oppression fails to recognize their strength, courage and resiliency during a difficult time in American history.”
Other sources use similar language, the governor’s office has pointed out. The encyclopedia states in part that an apprenticeship system developed in slavery and “in some cases, these skills created benefit for the slaves.” College Board’s 2023-24 framework for African American Studies says (pdf) that slaves “learned specialized trades” and “once free, [they] used these skills to provide for themselves and others.”
Mr. DeSantis had said in a letter to Ms. Harris that she should return to Florida to discuss the curriculum with him and others, including William Allen, a black scholar who helped develop it.
Before the letter was sent, Ms. Harris had said that officials are “[pushing] forward revisionist history,” adding that, “just yesterday in the state of Florida, they decided middle school students will be taught that enslaved people benefited from slavery.”
Mr. Allen noted on Fox that Frederick Douglass has recounted how his owner’s mistress taught him how to read.
“Such examples are numerous,“ Mr. Allen said. ”What this curriculum is about is having people who lived the experience, who lived the history, tell their stories. And nothing is more important than that. We never, ever erase the stories that the people who lived the stories tell; no one has a right to interpret before first understanding the stories as the people who lived them understood them themselves.”
Zachary Stieber

Zachary Stieber


Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news. Contact Zachary at

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