After the DeSantis and Newsom debate last night, could we see more like this in the future? 

December 1 – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and California Governor Gavin Newsom participated in a bit of a novel debate last night on Fox News. 

The debate, hosted by Sean Hannity, was only between the two governors – one Democrat and one Republican and the crux of it focused on the 2024 presidential election. 

While DeSantis has already thrown his hat into the ring for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, Newsom has not publicly announced a campaign. 

The two squared off over issues facing the country, including everything from sexually explicit material in children’s books to the handling of COVID 19. 

Was there even a winner here? 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll believes, “there was no winner last night other than maybe Donald Trump and Joe Biden, because it seems like they probably enjoyed watching this unfold. As we predicted yesterday, immediately after the debate, both of these guys came out and declared victory.” 

DeSantis sent out a fundraising email saying he crushed Newsom. 

Newsom also released a fundraising press release claiming he won the debate. 

Barkdoll said, “I found it difficult to watch. These guys talked over each other the whole time. Sean Hannity really had trouble controlling them. They were just spouting off all sorts of data and facts, which later some of the fact checking groups are saying both of them were very loose with a lot of the stats and numbers they were throwing out. Of course, there was no way to check that in real time. So again, bottom line, I don’t think any great damage was done to either of them. To the extent DeSantis needed some slam dunk to get traction in his presidential race, I don’t think that happened either. One thing I will say I think it’s pretty clear we saw last night what could be a debate for the presidential campaign in 2028. Both of these guys are clearly ambitious. These kinds of events are raising their national profile even more. So even though it doesn’t look like this is going to be DeSantis’s time, I wouldn’t write him off and I would even say those two may be the leading candidates for 2028.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM added, “I thought DeSantis took the bait too many times when Newsom would refuse to answer a lot of the questions. He really just ignored a lot of the questions and would start baiting DeSantis and I thought DeSantis fell for it in the sense that Newsom would start making these comments, not answering the question and then DeSantis almost would immediately start defending himself against the attack that Newsom was doing and I thought that was a mistake. Go ahead, let him make the attack. Let Hannity keep saying that’s not the question I asked you. Newsom was awful in actually answering a lot of those questions directly. He almost always went back to his talking points on the Parkland shooting and more people died in Florida, of course when you correct that the per capita number, when you correct it for age, they are about the same between California and Florida, showing how the COVID-19 really didn’t, wasn’t being responsive to all the so called safety measures like masking and closing down when we had the same per capita death rates in states that did vastly different things, but that’s what kept happening over and over. DeSantis also got in his jabs and Newsom would take that bait and again, they would talk over each other. It was very uncomfortable to listen to because they kept doing that. I did keep hearing the same talking points. I think Newsom went back to his talking points more than DeSantis did. I did hear DeSantis answering some of the questions more directly. Now, you might say because the questions were easier for him to answer. The one that absolutely slayed me is when Hannity asked the question of, we’ve had three years of an open border and he gave the stats of the numbers that were identified, the getaways we don’t even know, but the ones that they identified and captured or had contact with if they could identify coming from countries that are unfriendly to us and aren’t we worried about what could happen now? Isn’t the American population at risk? DeSantis answered the question. Newsom completely refused to answer that question. He went off on all his different talking points for that. So it was very annoying in that sense and Hannity did not have good control, I agree.”

Barkdoll noted, “Hannity invoked the old Iran Contra line at one point he said, I’m not a potted plant here. He clearly was struggling to keep control over those guys. He repeatedly said we need to allow this to breathe. I think Hannity had a very difficult task controlling two guys like this.”

There was no studio audience, which may have made a difference as well. 

Barkdoll suggested, “That maybe was a good thing, because that avoided all of the disruptions that would have undoubtedly been occurring with people clapping. But I don’t know if we’ll see more of this. When I saw some of the fact checking things last night that were really critical of both of these candidates, some of these fact checking groups are pointing out that other networks, they are looking at putting together these blue/red debates, high profile non-presidential candidates, think state governors or state Senators that might want to engage in these kinds of exercises. It’ll be interesting to see later today what the ratings were for this. If Fox had big ratings and I think they did, I think you’re going to see big numbers from this debate, might we start seeing more of these kinds of exercises on various networks, even in a non-presidential election year to the extent the public seems to be interested in this.”