Showdown? Newsom Challenges DeSantis to a Debate

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

How desperate is California Gov. Gavin Newsom to be relevant to the 2024 conversation? Newsom has been trying to show Democratic voters outside of California that he’s the guy who can stand up to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the Democratic champion if Joe Biden doesn’t run for re-election.

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Last July, Newsom ran ads in Florida inviting residents to move to California. This was after DeSantis had invited California businesses to relocate to low-tax Florida.

Earlier this week, Newsom accused DeSantis of “kidnapping” the 50 illegal aliens who were flown to Martha’s Vineyard by DeSantis. He asked the Department of Justice to investigate the matter.

Then he topped off the week with an invitation to the Florida governor to debate. “Newsom claimed without evidence that the migrants were sent with ‘the intent’ to be ‘humiliate[d] and dehumanize[d],'” according to the Daily Wire.

DeSantis responded to the remarks during a press event Friday afternoon, saying that the over-the-top amount of hair gel that Newsom uses was “interfering with his brain function.”

“So, the governor of California sent a letter to the Department of Justice saying, ‘You need to prosecute Texas and Florida governors,’” DeSantis said.

“And all I can say is, I think his hair gel is interfering with his brain function,” DeSantis said as the audience and officials on stage with him erupted into laughter and cheers.

The idea for a debate came from that paragon of impartiality, Dan Rather. Newsom threw down the gauntlet, being careful not to muss up his hair.

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Bob Brigham, who is now a senior editor at Raw Story and a former Newsom staffer, seemed embarrassed to mention that only those losing an argument challenge an opponent to a debate. “One of the fundamental rules of politics is that the only person who demands debates is the person losing the argument,” Brigham wrote.

Breitbart News Editor-at-Large Joel Pollak tweeted: “This is a weak response. Newsom started the fight with threats of arrest, and tries to end it with hair products.”

“Oh FFS. This is all so pathetic. It’s why politicians are in total disrepute,” Fox News host Steve Hilton tweeted. “Can’t these people focus on solving problems in a practical way instead of all this nonsense?”

Political commentator Hans Mahncke tweeted: “Newsom wants to elevate DeSantis to elevate himself. That’s the main thing here. But he’s probably also figured that his own chances with Democrat primary voters will rise considerably if DeSantis is the GOP nominee.”

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If anything, Newsom’s challenges to DeSantis only highlight his smaller stature in the political world. He and other Democrats are thrashing about like fish on the dock, trying to find a way to attack DeSantis, to cut him down to size. At this point, it doesn’t appear to be working. It’s DeSantis and his fellow GOP governor Greg Abbott who have shone a bright light on both the crisis at the border and the Democrats’ hypocrisy about illegal aliens.

Newsom should quit while it’s still relatively close. If he doesn’t, he’s liable to come off looking so weak that any chance he might have had with Democratic presidential primary voters would disappear.

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