Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R ) responded to California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) saying he would debate him Thursday, telling Newsom to “stop pussyfooting around” on whether he is going to run for president in 2024.
“You know, it’s interesting,” DeSantis said at a press conference. “He’s got huge problems in his state.”
DeSantis went on to tie Newsom to California’s recent population decline, calling it “a massive exodus out of California.”
“And yet with all of those problems, he has a real, serious fixation on Florida; I mean, I think it’s just bizarre that he does that,” DeSantis said. “But what I would tell him is, you know what? Stop pussyfooting around,” he said, drawing cheers from the audience.
“Are you going to throw your hat in the ring and challenge Joe? Are you going to do it? Or are you going to sit on the sidelines and chirp? Why don’t you throw your hat in the ring, and then we’ll go ahead and talk about what’s happening.”
A few hours after the remark, the governor’s presidential campaign started advertising t-shirts with DeSantis’ quote “Stop pussyfooting around” on them.
“If you’re chirping from the sidelines, this ones for you,” the campaign wrote in a tweet advertising the t-shirts.
DeSantis made the comments at an event in Fort Pierce, Fla., where he signed Florida’s 2023-2024 state budget. His remarks come after Newsom told conservative talk show host Sean Hannity in an interview that aired Monday that he would debate the Florida governor in a forum moderated by Hannity.
“I’m all in. Count on it,” Newsom said in the interview, which aired on Fox News.
“You would do a two-hour debate with Ron DeSantis?” Hannity asked.
“Make it three,” Newsom responded. “I would do it one day’s notice with no notes. I look forward to that.”
Tensions between the two governors have been high ever since a dozen migrants from the Texas border were flown to Sacramento, Calif. The Florida Division of Emergency Management confirmed last week that the state was behind recent migrant flights to California.
In the same interview with Hannity, Newsom maintained that he does not intend to challenge Biden to the Democratic presidential nomination next year.
“I’m rooting for our president, and I have great confidence [in him],” Newsom said.
— Updated at 2:06 p.m.