Top 5 Highlights of the DeSantis vs. Newsom Debate

The Fox News debate featuring Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was marked by intense confrontations on topics such as abortion, crime, taxes, and COVID-19. Here are five standout moments from the debate.

DeSantis challenges Newsom with explicit children’s book In a discussion on Florida’s restrictions on sexually-explicit books in schools, DeSantis justified his stance by presenting Newsom with images from one of the banned books.

“This is a book that’s in some of the schools in California — in Florida, it’s not consistent with our standards — it’s called ‘Genderqueer.’ Some of it’s blacked out. You probably would not be able to put this on air,” DeSantis remarked.

“This is pornography. It’s cartoons. It’s aimed at children and it’s wrong,” he continued. “So, this should not be in schools. When people on the left say that somehow you are ‘banning books’ by removing this from a young kid’s classroom — this is not age appropriate.”

Newsom, though, accused DeSantis of waging a “cultural purge” of books.

“You want to roll back hard-earned national rights on voting rights, on civil rights, and LGBTQ rights, on women’s rights, not just access to abortion, but also access to contraception. You want to weaponize grievance, you are focusing on false separateness. You in particular run on a banning binge, a cultural purge, intimidating and humiliating people,” Newsom said.

‘Freedom to defecate in public’

DeSantis blasted Newsom during the debate for claiming that California, not Florida is the “freedom state.” He noted that while California had certain freedoms other states did not, they were freedoms such as the “freedom to defecate in public.”

“Gavin Newsom at one point tried to say that California was the ‘freedom state,’” DeSantis remarked. “I just kind of laughed, like, you’re locking people down, you’re doing all this stuff. Then, I thought about it and California does have freedoms that other states don’t.”

“You have the freedom to defecate in public in California,” he added. “You have the freedom to pitch a tent on Sunset Boulevard. You have the freedom to create a homeless encampment under a freeway and light it on fire. You have the freedom to have an open air drug market. You have the freedom that, if you’re an illegal alien, to get all these taxpayer benefits.

“So those are freedoms,” the Florida governor concluded. “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.”

Newsom then responded, saying he “loved the rant on freedom” and accused DeSantis of criminalizing teachers, doctors, librarians and women that “seek reproductive care.”

“Spare me this notion of freedom,” Newsom said. “Ask the folks at Disney about freedom and free enterprise.”

 ‘Shame on you!’: Newsom forcefully corrects DeSantis on pronunciation of ‘Kamala Harris’

In the midst of a conversation about school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, Newsom emphatically interrupted to reprimand DeSantis for his pronunciation of Vice President Kamala Harris’ first name.

“And by the way, it’s not Kamala Harris,” Newsom said. “Shame on you! It’s Kamala Harris, Ron. It’s Kamala Harris, Madame Vice President to you. Kamala Harris,” Newsom said.

“Stop insulting,” he added.

As Newsom tried to rectify DeSantis’ pronunciation, the Florida governor persisted in arguing that prolonged school closures during the pandemic adversely affected children compelled to engage in remote learning.

DeSantis Criticizes Soros-Funded California Prosecutor DeSantis condemned Los Angeles County district attorney George Gascon, one of several left-leaning prosecutors nationwide backed by liberal financier George Soros, for his approach to addressing crime in Los Angeles. He asserted that California’s escalating crime rates were driving an increasing number of residents to leave the state.

“Here’s the thing,” DeSantis said. “People are leaving California in droves because [Newsom] has failed to stand up for public safety. They are on an ideological joyride to let people out of prison early, to go easy on them. Heck, Gavin’s buddy in Los Angeles, Gascon, he doesn’t even prosecute.”

“When I was in Southern California for the Reagan debate, I had a lot of women tell me they have to take off all their jewelry just to be able to go shopping because, otherwise, they’re going to get mugged,” he continued. “That is the reality that people are facing in California. Gavin can try to put lipstick on that pig, but the fact of the matter is he has failed the people of California.”

Newsom then responded, blasting DeSantis for criticizing “one of the great American cities.”

“You’re talking down the great state of California, talking down one of the great American cities, Los Angeles. That’s insulting,” he said. “And you’re doing it because you’re trying to obfuscate the fact that you have a higher murder rate in the state of Florida. In the state of California, we have the lowest crime rate we’ve had in 50 years.”

Governors spar over handling of COVID-19 pandemic

The two governors then sparred over their handling of the pandemic with Newsom arguing DeSantis both locked down Florida before California shut down and that his lax policies led to a higher death rate in Florida. DeSantis, though, blasted Newsom for shutting his state down for an extended period of time and listening to the advice of teachers unions.

“You were not following science. You were a lock-down governor,” DeSantis said. “You did a lot of damage to your people. You had more kids locked out of school for a longer period of time in California than anywhere else in the country. It was the working-class kids. It was the middle income kids — his kids were in private school, they were in class. He is owned by the teachers union.”

“Let’s talk about your record on COVID,” Newsom responded. “You passed an emergency declaration before the state of California did. You closed down your beaches, your bars, your restaurants. It’s a fact. You had quarantines, checkpoints all over the state of Florida.”

“You were promoting vaccines. You even wore a mask,” he added. “He did all of that until he decided to fall prey to the fringe of his party. And as a consequence of that, tens of thousands of people lost their lives, the equivalent of ten 9/11s.”