Newsom, DeSantis take the debate stage. What they said on the issues.

The Red State and Blue State governors took to Fox News to share contrasting visions for the nation.

After months of back-and-forth sniping in the press, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finally took the debate stage in Alpharetta, Ga. before an audience on Fox News.

The debate was pitched as the ultimate contrast of governors, with DeSantis a contender for the GOP nomination for President and Newsom waging what many believe to be a shadow candidacy should President Joe Biden fail to seek the Democratic nomination.


Here’s what they had to say on the issues:

  • COVID-19 response: DeSantis claimed that Newsom’s coronavirus lockdown measures in California did more harm than good and said that he “followed science” by keeping businesses open in Florida. Newsom disagreed and accused DeSantis of ultimately falling “prey to the fringe of his party.”
  • Taxes: The two governors sparred over tax policy, with DeSantis opposing Newsom’s proposed tax hikes for high earners and Newsom characterizing DeSantis as catering to wealthy donors.
  • Crime: Both governors weighed in on the issue of crime, but with opposing views. DeSantis blamed “soft” liberal policies for the rise in crime in California, while Newsom pointed out that Florida has a higher crime rate per capita than California.
  • Education: DeSantis criticized Newsom for COVID-era school closures in California, while Newsom countered that DeSantis was promoting a largely unpopular policy that would send taxpayer dollars to private schools.
  • Immigration: In an exchange on immigration policy, Newsom said DeSantis’ strategy was meaningless beyond “trolling folks” and trying to drum up attention, while DeSantis characterized Newsom as weak on border security.
  • Energy: Newsom called out DeSantis for not doing enough to address climate change, while DeSantis touted Florida’s efforts in achieving energy independence.


  • “The question is a simple one,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said. “Who, Ron, are you for? It’s a factual lie that — the state of California has the highest tax rate, but for whom? And it’s a foundational and fundamental difference.”
  • “How many people leave Florida to go to California because they pay less taxes? I’m not seeing that. Are people going from Florida to New York because they pay less taxes? Of course not,” DeSantis countered. “They come to Florida because they pay lower taxes. We don’t even have an income tax. And yet California has a higher sales tax than we do.”
  • “You were not following science. You were a lock-down governor,” DeSantis said of California’s COVID policies. “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 countered. “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 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.”

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