Govs. Ron DeSantis and Gavin Newsom have tentatively agreed to debate — one hosted by Fox News.
The Florida Republican and California Democrat have repeatedly sparred over policies in their respective states, each representing one side of the ideological spectrum though occupying different political perches. DeSantis, a Republican, is trailing former President Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination while Newsom, a Democrat, has brushed aside questions about his own presidential ambitions to become a super surrogate of sorts for President Joe Biden.
A showdown between the two seemed unlikely as DeSantis ramped up his presidential campaign. But Newsom still has spent months trying to entice his counterpart into joining him on a stage.
On Wednesday, DeSantis agreed, telling Fox News’ Sean Hannity: “Absolutely I’m game. Just tell me when and where.”
An aide to Newsom told POLITICO that the governor was also in. Newsom’s office had sent a formal request offer to Fox News last week with proposed debate dates of Nov. 8 or Nov. 10. That request called for Hannity to serve as the sole moderator for a 90-minute forum on Fox News that would not include an in-studio audience and would air live.
“Desantis should put up or shut up. Anything else is just games,” the aide said.
A debate would — to put it mildly — be an unpredicted event in modern presidential politics even in an age of seemingly endless cable news town halls. For DeSantis, it would provide a new venue and opponent to contrast his record in Florida after spending weeks bogged down in process stories about layoffs; tightened campaign budgets, and nervous GOP donors.
Newsom, should a debate happen, would feel the weight of his political party on his shoulders under a national spotlight brighter than he’s experienced before. Like he did opposite Hannity in a recent sitdown interview, he would be forced to defend attacks about the progressive policies in his own state as well as President Joe Biden’s record.
In his letter, Newsom’s office proposed three separate debate sights: Nevada, Georgia or North Carolina.