On Thursday night, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and California Governor Gavin Newsom faced off in a live event dubbed “The Great Red vs Blue State Debate.

With Fox News host Sean Hannity moderating the contentious showdown, the philosophies of the East and West Coasts went toe-to-toe, covering everything from homelessness and border security to education and the economy.

Here are some of the standout moments from the historic clash between Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis.

Opening Statements

From the very beginning, the differences between DeSantis and Newsom were immediately apparent, and their conflicting styles of governing formed the backbone of their opening statements.

Governor DeSantis began his remarks by praising the “natural advantages” of California, lamenting how Newsom’s disastrous policies have led to a mass exodus from the state. He also highlighted Newsom’s COVID-era missteps and tied his opponent’s record directly to the Biden-Harris administration.

In response, Newsom accused DeSantis of attempting to bring the United States back to “a pre-1960s world” by overturning civil rights. He also called out DeSantis’ “book-banning binge” and said that both the Florida governor and former President Donald Trump are “trying to set democracy on fire.”  

In the first viral moment of the night, Newsom concluded by declaring that “neither of us will be the nominee for our party in 2024.”

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Bidenomics and Job Reports

With California and Florida boasting some of the largest populations and economies in the country, the economy was a major discussion point during the debate. With Newsom acting as a surrogate for the Biden-Harris administration, the California governor touted the 14 million new jobs reportedly created under the president’s watch.

He also called out DeSantis for benefitting from “Bidenomics,” with Florida receiving $28 million from the recent CHIPS and Science Act.

In response, DeSantis denounced Newsom’s record in his state as “the Biden-Harris agenda on steroids,” accusing all three Democrats of wanting to “take the California model nationally.”


According to statistics presented by Sean Hannity, California has seen a massive chunk of its citizens flee to other states, driven out by high taxes, rising crime, and declining standards of living. However, according to Newsom, the exact opposite is true.

“More Floridians move to California than the other way around. It’s a fact,” he declared.

DeSantis countered with an anecdote about a man who moved from California to Florida, finding the Sunshine State to be “better governed and safer” than its West Coast counterpart…and according to DeSantis, this man was Newsom’s own father-in-law.

Education and Censorship

Turning once again to DeSantis’ so-called book bans, Newsom criticized the Florida governor for using education as “a sword for a cultural purge.”

DeSantis countered by holding up a selection of pages from the graphic novel Gender Queer, which depicts cartoons of sex acts. “This is pornography,” he said. “It’s cartoons. It’s aimed at children — and it’s wrong.”

At a later point, DeSantis also defended parental rights in education, criticizing California’s “assault” on parents by giving children “hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and a sex change operation” without parental consent.

The Presidential Race

While Newsom has been accused of running a shadow campaign to replace Joe Biden as president in 2024, he once again denied these rumors outright. However, the same cannot be said for DeSantis, who is actively campaigning for the Republican nomination.

According to Newsom, however, DeSantis has little chance of winning, and Donald Trump’s 41-point lead over him became a frequent line of attack.

In a matter of weeks, Newsom said, DeSantis will be endorsing Trump and bowing out of the race.

Meanwhile, DeSantis took aim at Newsom’s support for Biden, who the Florida governor declared is simply not up to the task anymore.

Other Moments

When debating their vastly differing approaches to COVID-19, Newsom accused DeSantis of catering to “the fringe of his party” and causing “the equivalent of 10 9/11s” during the pandemic.

Newsom also attempted to take DeSantis to task over his pronunciation of Vice President Kamala Harris’ first name.

For his part, DeSantis turned his attention to declining conditions in California cities, holding aloft a map of San Francisco showing thousands of places where human feces has been found in the streets.

At 10:30, the scheduled end of the debate, both governors eagerly agreed to extend the event by an additional 20 minutes. However, during the final commercial break, DeSantis and Newsom were both called away for other planned activities, bringing the debate to a somewhat anticlimactic end.

For a full breakdown of the Great Red vs Blue State Debate, tune into Valuetainment’s newest hit show, the Unusual Suspects, live Friday morning!

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