The debate quickly evolved into a two-on-one affair, with Hannity and DeSantis teaming up against Newsom and even questioning the latter’s allegiance to President Joe Biden.Newsom, in turn, focused on undermining DeSantis’ 2024 presidential aspirations, repeatedly asserting thatBiden would be the Democratic nominee.
DeSantis, known for his strong stance on conservative governance, showed a feistier side, countering Newsom on various fronts, including crime, immigration, taxes, and education. The Florida governor, usually reserved in Republican primary debates, seized the opportunity to leave a lasting impression.
Despite Newsom’s attempts to highlight Biden’s achievements, such as a 3.2% inflation rate and 5.2% economic growth in the last quarter, the debate turned increasingly personal. Hannity, despite his initial claim of neutrality, displayed a clear bias, favoring DeSantis in the questions and presenting graphics that portrayed Florida more favorably than California.
The debate also touched on the dynamics within the Republican Party, with Newsom taking jabs at DeSantis’ trailing position in polls against former President Donald Trump and suggesting that Nikki Haley could be a stronger contender.
In the midst of a fiery exchange, the abortion issue became a flashpoint, with Newsom criticizing DeSantis’ six-week abortion ban as “extreme,” while DeSantis emphasized his belief in a “culture of life.”
The clash showcased a different DeSantis than seen in previous Republican primary debates, potentially reinvigorating his campaign. However, despite the intensity of the debate, its impact on the trajectory of the Republican nominating race remains uncertain. Both governors are expected to face their respective party rivals in upcoming debates, with the Republican primary contest kicking off in Iowa on January 15.
(with inputs from agencies)