Fox News announced Monday that it will host a debate in late November between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), after at least a year of taunting and sniping between the two.
Fox News’s Sean Hannity will moderate the debate, which the network called “a red vs. blue state debate.” The 90-minute event will be held in Georgia and will air Nov. 30 on Hannity’s 9 p.m. prime-time program.
It is unclear whether the event will be broadcast live or include an audience; Newsom had requested that there be no audience.
“We’ve agreed to the debate — provided there is no cheering section, no hype videos or any of the other crutches DeSantis requested,” said Nathan Click, a spokesperson for Newsom. “We want a real debate — not a circus.”
DeSantis’s campaign did not immediately respond to a Washington Post request for comment Monday afternoon.
Alexandra Coscia, a spokesperson for Fox News, declined Monday afternoon to provide more details on the debate.
DeSantis said Monday on social media that he welcomed “the opportunity to debate Gavin Newsom over our very different visions for the future of our country.”
DeSantis, a Republican presidential candidate who will take the stage Wednesday at the second GOP primary debate, hopes to woo national voters with the promise that he can export his vision of Florida to the rest of the country — but he remains far behind Donald Trump in the polls. The governor has highlighted Florida as a success story, contrasting it with Democratic states such as California. Democratic policies have compelled residents to leave California “and come to Florida,” he told Newsmax’s Addison Smith on Monday, adding that November’s debate is important “for the country.”
“The future for the country, for what the left would want to do, is just double down on the California policies, and so I think it’s going to be an important debate,” DeSantis said.
Newsom had been calling on DeSantis to debate for months. DeSantis agreed to the debate in August after Hannity presented a clip from an interview with Newsom in which the Democratic governor said he was “all in” to debate his Florida counterpart.
“Absolutely,” DeSantis said in response to the challenge. “I’m game. Let’s get it done. Just tell me when and where.”
Neither Newsom nor DeSantis can run for reelection as governor because of term limits.
The two have taken public jabs at each other on topics such as immigration, abortion, gun rights and education, each portraying the policies in the other’s state as an indictment of their respective party’s politics.
While President Biden, who is seeking reelection next year, has often tried to strike a tone of unity in a divided country, Newsom has emerged as a Democratic leader willing to take the fight over high-stakes policies — such as on abortion, education and LGBTQ+ rights — to Republicans. Newsom traveled to Florida in April to meet with students and faculty members at a school targeted by DeSantis’s conservative higher education policies. While Newsom is not running for president, his political presence extends well beyond California and often sparks talk of a future White House run.