Why did California Governor Gavin Newsom and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis debate each other last night? Newsom is on the rise politically and wants to run for President in 2028, and the debate was a good opportunity for him to raise his national profile without stepping on President Biden’s toes. DeSantis is on the way down and is looking for any oddball stunt he can find that might somehow salvage his failed run for President in 2024. The whole thing predictably ended up being a study in contrasts.
Newsom won the debate in thorough fashion. The disparity was large enough that even though Republican observers on social media spent the entire time bashing Newsom, even they couldn’t figure out how to pretend that DeSantis had a good night. Newsom came across as authoritative, confident, smart, and a guy who really could maybe be President someday. DeSantis came across as overmatched and weirder than ever. Seriously, you’d have thought he was replaced by a malfunctioning animatronic robot.
The kicker was that the debate was heavily slanted in DeSantis’ favor – Fox News host Sean Hannity was the moderator – and Newsom still dominated. But for Newsom, that was sort of the point. He went into the lion’s den last night and slayed a big name on the other side. That establishes him on the national stage for 2028. Remarkably, Newsom managed to pull it off while strongly promoting President Biden’s 2024 reelection campaign in the process.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report