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People watch a debate between California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a watch party at Manny’s on November 30, 2023 in San Francisco, California. Newsom and DeSantis were hosted by Sean Hannity on Fox. Photo permission from Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/TNS.

Gov. Newsom and Gov. DeSantis clash in prime-time debate discussing the current state of Florida and California

Fox News held a prime-time debate in Georgia between Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday, Nov. 30. The debate was largely held in order to discuss DeSantis running for president in 2024 and whether or not Newsom would run as well for the Democratic Party.

The debate was moderated by Fox News host Sean Hannity and it was marketed by the network under the name, “DeSantis vs. Newsom: The Great Red vs. Blue State Debate.”

The debate lasted 90 minutes and the main topics of discussion were immigration, public safety, crime, civil rights, abortion, COVID-19 and the economy.

The debate started with an opening statement from DeSantis challenging Newsom on cross-state migration, public safety and crime. DeSantis noted how many citizens have left California and migrated to Florida in the past two years, stating the reason for the population decline is Newsom’s failure to improve quality of life in California compared to Florida.

DeSantis gave examples such as Florida’s decrease in crime and homelessness, contrasting with California’s gain in the homeless population, all claims proven to be true with subsequent fact-checking.

“Why are we getting people to come? We have a fifty year low in the crime rate,” DeSantis said. “You don’t see in the last ten years we’ve had a 45% decline in homelessness, California’s had a 45% increase in homelessness, we back the blue as well.”

Newsom went on to rebuttal DeSantis’ statement on Californian migration and quality of life by naming California’s accomplishments initiated by him, such as higher education, manufacturing, technology, global warming efforts and more, all of which claims prove to be true. This implies that even if more Californians were moving to Florida, which he claims to be the opposite, the reason would not be due to his policies.

After the debate, factcheck.org proved Newsom to be wrong on cross-state migration, stating Florida had a two-year net gain of almost 35,000 residents who moved from California to Florida.

DeSantis also later cited the current national border problems in the southwest, mentioning illegal immigrants and contraband being allowed into the country under Biden’s lead.

“Joe Biden is sitting on his hands,” DeSantis said. “He refuses to take care of the border, he refuses to hold the drug cartels accountable. This is the vision of Biden, Harris and Newsom.”

In response, Newsom claimed that he actively believes in border security, stating the asylum system is broken. He backed this claim by citing his time as a border-state governor and listing what he’s done to help border control.

On economics, DeSantis made a point out of California’s 6% income tax rate, compared to Florida, a state with zero income tax. He then led into the state’s contrasting tax rates, with California having a 1.25% increase in sales tax, a 43 cent increase on gas prices per gallon and a 3% increase on income tax compared to Florida.

Newsom then addressed the claim by pointing out how DeSantis and his team put more taxes on low-income workers, a true statement considering Florida is ranked as the third most regressive state, while he taxes millionaires and the 1% who can afford to be taxed extra, leading to higher tax rates compared to Florida due to the higher amount of money.

On a national scale, Newsom described the benefits to the economy under Democratic rule, stating how much the country’s economy has improved under “Bidenomics,” with all claims stated by Newsom proven to be fact by The Washington Post.

“Fourteen-million jobs, more than the last three republican presidents combined, 3.9% unemployment, the lowest Black unemployment rate in history,” Newsom said. “The lowest unemployment for Hispanics, lowest unemployment for women, lowest black poverty rates in history. That’s this administration’s agenda.”

Newsom then goes into civil rights, citing how DeSantis has banned over 1,400 books in the state of Florida, a proven fact. Newsom claims DeSantis’ numerous policies banning and prohibiting minors and citizens to learn more about black history, restricting rights for queer and trangender communities and so on, effectively suppresses the people of Florida.

Newsom also criticized DeSantis’ views and laws on abortion, specifically the six-week ban. Newsom called the ban extreme and hypocritical, since within that time, a woman wouldn’t be able to tell they are pregnant in order to get an abortion.

“You want to bring us back to a pre-1960s world, America in reverse. You want to reverse hard-earned national rights on voting rights, on civil rights and LGBTQ rights, on women’s rights,” Newsom said. “Not just access to abortion, but also access to contraception. You want to weaponize grievance. You are focusing on false separateness. You, in particular, Ron, are on a banning binge, a cultural purge, intimidating and humiliating people you disagree with. You and President Trump are really trying to light democracy on fire.”

The reason the debate was held mainly stems from the two governor’s extremely different political values, with DeSantis leaning more towards conservatism, resulting in numerous widely controversial bills, laws and bans passed by DeSantis. These include topics such as Black history, LGBTQ+ rights, gun control and more.

Additionally, in many Florida schools, teachers are heavily restricted on what they are allowed to teach students about those topics, expanding even further into teaching about tragic aspects of American history, like slavery, systemic racism, LGBTQ+ treatment, etc.

“We’re basically ignoring part of our cultural history,” AP Government Teacher Jeff Foster said. “It’s concerning as a parent of teenagers and as a teacher, especially of a political class, that I’m sort of handcuffed in the way I can discuss things.”

These policies directly contrast with Newsom’s, who tends to be more left-leaning and progressive, advocating for gun control with Senate Bill 2 and Assembly Bill 732, universal healthcare with the California Blueprint, inclusivity for minorities with laws AB 5 and AB 979, etc.

With Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School residing in Florida, students are heavily affected by these bans and restrictions, such as students who were previously taking AP Psychology and AP African American History courses, both of which have been reflected by DeSantis’ policies. Even more students are affected when considering DeSantis’ laws and policies restricting queer and trans youth, a large population at the school.

“I feel like me and my family were personally affected by the laws,” junior Kayla Nikaj said. “As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I was very excited to take AP Psychology as I wanted to learn more about myself and my community, but after the law passed you can’t really take it anymore. It feels like it’s restricting me from learning more about who I am.”

While Newsom has stated he does not intend to run for presidency in 2024, DeSantis and other political figures have hinted at a possible shadow campaign. DeSantis does plan to run for presidency in 2024 and is currently behind Trump in polls in the Republican Primary.

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About the Contributor
Luke Dautruche, Reporter
Luke Dautruche is a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He enjoys playing Oboe, skateboarding, going to the gym and listening to music.
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