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A Donald Trump spokesperson compared Ron DeSantis to an OnlyFans model in a bizarre statement issued before the Florida governor took to the debate stage to square off against California’s Gavin Newsom.
Thursday’s event, which aired on Fox News, was a hard-to-explain 90-minute clash that pitted one struggling Republican presidential hopeful against a Democratic rival who may or may not seek the presidency in four years.
Seizing an opportunity, the Trump campaign’s Steven Cheung issued a ‘spolier’ of how the debate would pan out.
‘Ron will flail his arms and bobble his head wildly, looking more like a San Francisco crackhead than the governor of Florida. This isn’t a prediction. It’s a spoiler,’ Cheung said.
‘Ron DeSanctimonious is acting more like a thirsty, third-rate OnlyFans wannabe model than an actual presidential candidate,’ Cheung continued.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (left) and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (right) met for a one-on-one debate hosted by Fox News and moderated by Sean Hannity (center) on Thursday night in Alpharetta, Georgia
Former President Donald Trump is leading Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis nationally by around 48 points. In Florida, Trump leads DeSantis by 41 points, according to a November poll from Florida Atlantic University
‘Instead of actually campaigning and trying to turn around his dismal poll numbers, DeSanctus is now so desperate for attention that he’s debating a Grade A loser like Gavin Newsom,’ he added.
On Thursday, the big-state governors were eager to represent their parties on the national stage as they battled over the economy, pandemic restrictions and President Joe Biden’s leadership in a faceoff peppered with fiery policy disputes and personal insults.
‘This is a slick, slippery politician whose state is failing,’ DeSantis said of Newsom.
The California Democrat defended his state, but was equally eager to shift the discussion to DeSantis’ stagnant 2024 presidential bid.
‘How’s that going for you, Ron? You’re down 41 points in your own home state,’ said Newsom, who is backing Biden for president. ‘Neither of us will be the nominee for a party in 2024.’
The host, Fox News Channel, billed the event hosted by Sean Hannity as ‘The Great Red vs. Blue State Debate.’
Yet it was held in a television studio with no audience in Georgia, a location chosen for its key swing-state implications in national politics.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom predicted that President Joe Biden (pictured) would be the Democratic nominee ‘in a matter of weeks,’ while saying that former President Donald Trump would be the GOP nominee in the same time period
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, during his debate with California Gov. Gavin Newsom, said that President Joe Biden was ‘in decline’ and a ‘danger’ to the country while accusing Newsom of running a ‘shadow campaign’ for president
And it played out in the heart of presidential primary season with voters in both parties paying closer attention to their 2024 options heading into next fall’s general election.
As leaders of two of the three most populous states, DeSantis and Newsom have spent much of the past year poking each other’s policy choices and leadership style from afar.
But on Thursday night, they got their first chance to challenge each other on the same national stage.
The two participants, standing at podiums alone onstage, accused each other of lying repeatedly and talked over each other throughout. And while they largely focused on policy differences, the debate was also deeply personal at times.
DeSantis called Newsom ‘a liberal bully.’ Of DeSantis, Newsom said, ‘I don’t like the way you demean and humiliate people you disagree with.’
Hannity struggled to control the action. Over and over, he encouraged the men to give each other ‘breathing room.’
DeSantis, a 45-year-old Republican governor elected to his second and final term last fall, is grasping for momentum in a 2024 campaign plagued by missteps in his bid to defeat former President Donald Trump, who remains the overwhelming front-runner in the GOP primary.
Newsom, California’s 56-year-old term-limited Democratic governor, has positioned himself to seek the presidency someday, but like the rest of his party’s most ambitious leaders, he declined to challenge Biden for the Democratic nomination in 2024.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was all-in for President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign even going as far to tell Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis: ‘I would take Joe Biden at 100 versus Ron DeSantis any day of the week at any age’
Instead, he’s emerged as a leading defender of Biden and a formal campaign adviser.
He embraced that role Thursday night after DeSantis said he was ‘joined at the hip with Biden and (Vice President Kamala) Harris.’ Later, the Florida governor said Biden, at 81 years old, is ‘in decline’ and represents ‘a danger to the country.’
‘I’m proud of the work Biden and Harris have done,’ Newsom said, ticking through unemployment statistics. ‘I will take Joe Biden at 100 rather than Ron DeSantis any day of the week at any age.’
Throughout the event, the Biden campaign was sending out video clips of Newsom’s performance.
And afterward, Newsom issued a fundraising appeal on Biden’s behalf. DeSantis’ team, too, issued a steady stream of his own highlights, just as it would during a traditional presidential debate.