Top takeaways from Newsom’s one-on-one face-off with DeSantis. It exceeded expectations.

It was the smackdown nobody asked for but everyone couldn’t wait to see: California’s slick Governor Newsom going toe-to-toe with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a man described most often as “stiff” and “wooden.”

The face-off took place on Fox News on Thursday night and was moderated by Sean Hannity.

It didn’t disappoint.

According to Fox News contributor Liz Peek, “against all expectations” DeSantis “absolutely destroyed California’s Gavin Newsom,” and, on X, the sentiment is being echoed with almost giddy delight.

“It’s a blessing for DeSantis that California doesn’t enforce criminal laws anymore,” wrote conservative icon, actor James Woods. “Because he murdered Newsom tonight.”

Included with the comment, Mr. Woods posted a clip of Newsom smirking as DeSantis recalled an exchange he’d had in Florida with one notable Californian who had fled to the Sunshine State.

“So, I was talking to a fella who had made the move from California to Florida, and he was telling me that Florida was much better governed, safer, better budget, lower taxes — all this stuff. He was really happy with the quality of life,” DeSantis said. “And then he paused and said, ‘Oh, by the way, I’m Gavin Newsom’s father-in-law.'”

In another “epic” moment, DeSantis credited Newsom for the unique “freedoms” Californians get to enjoy.

“You know, California does have freedoms that other states don’t,” the Florida governor said. “You have the freedom to defecate in public in California. You have the freedom to pitch a tent on Sunset Boulevard. You have the freedom to create a homeless encampment under a freeway and even light it on fire. You have the freedom to have an open-air drug market and use drugs. You have the freedom, if you’re an illegal alien, to get all these taxpayer benefits.”

“So those are freedoms — they’re not the freedoms our founding fathers envisioned — but they have contributed to the destruction of the quality of life in California and the results speak for themselves,” DeSantis stated. “People are leaving the state because they have failed in addressing the homeless population.”

Hit with indisputable facts, Newsom’s responses were “all fluff,” according to Peek.

“The California governor was glib, to be sure, but he turned out to be all fluff — unable to answer questions that he surely saw coming, like why people are fleeing his state or why gasoline prices are $4.85 a gallon compared to $3.17 in Florida and $3.25 nationwide,” Peek wrote.

“Newsom embarrassed himself by disputing indisputable facts presented by debate moderator Hannity; he had no answers,” she continued. “The California governor could not explain why 750,000 people left his state in the past two years, while 454,000 people moved into Florida, why violent crime is almost twice as high in California as it is in Florida, why taxes are so much loftier, or why homelessness is over three times greater than in Florida. (He actually tried to suggest that the homeless issue had begun under Ronald Reagan’s governorship.).”

“I’m against regressive taxes that advantage billionaires and millionaires over working families and the working poor,” Newsom told Hannity. “People in his state pay more taxes on the low end than we tax people on the high end.”

“How does paying seven dollars a gallon for gas help working people?” DeSantis asked. “That doesn’t help working people at all. How does paying an eight percent sales tax help working people? That doesn’t help working people at all.”

“They have the highest taxes in the nation,” DeSantis said. “People flee to be able to save money to get out of California. And you have working-class people that move to these other states –their dollars go much further.”

The Florida governor noted that, under “Bidenomics,” people are having to take food out of their shopping carts because they can’t afford what they used to be able to purchase.

“One more final thing,” he added, “California’s unemployment rate is 60 percent higher than Florida’s unemployment rate. Our unemployment rate is 2.8 percent. Theirs is 4.8 percent. Why? Because it’s a command-and-control economy, they have a political agenda that they are pursuing at the expense of the people.”

In response to such points, Newsom “resorted to White House talking points on the large number of jobs added nationally under the Biden administration rather than explain why unemployment is so much higher in California than it is in Florida,” according to Peek.

And when all else failed, Peek wrote, Newsom just made stuff up.

“Sometimes, Newsom made up completely non-credible statistics of his own. He claimed, for instance, that more people had moved from Florida to California in the past two years than the other way around,” she explained, adding, “People watching immediately debunked that idea, posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, actual numbers that disproved the governor’s claim.”

If all of that wasn’t enough of a reality check to wipe the smug grin off Newsom’s face, the “poop map” should have done the trick.

“Ron DeSantis just held up a poop map of San Francisco to show where people are tagging feces from homeless people on all the public streets,” wrote a stunned Clay Travis on X. “Holy sh*t. Literally.”

“Human feces is now a fact of life,” DeSantis said, “except when a Communist dictator comes to town. Then they cleaned up the streets.”

“The debate was a good one for DeSantis, whose campaign has struggled over the past few months. As an early challenger to former president Donald Trump and one with a terrific CV, DeSantis was pummeled by the media and also by Trump,” Peek wrote. “Thursday’s debate should help stabilize his campaign, not only because he came prepared and outperformed expectations, but also because the audience was reminded that he has governed Florida well.”

Melissa Fine

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