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Newsom challenges Florida’s DeSantis to debate

Gavin Newsom challenged his Florida counterpart, Ron DeSantis, to a televised debate on Friday, escalating his criticism of the mass transportation of migrants to liberal strongholds by Republican governors as “reprehensible” and possibly illegal.

“Hears [DeSantis]You are clearly struggling, distracted and busy playing politics with people’s lives.” Newsom tweeted Friday afternoon “Since you only have one primary need, attention, let’s take this and discuss. I’ll bring my hair gel. You bring your hairspray. Mention the time before election day.”

On Wednesday night, DeSantis sent a group of about 50 immigrants by plane to Martha’s Vineyard, a Massachusetts playground for wealthy liberals. On Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott bused a group of nearly 100 immigrants to Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington, DC, escalating a tactic Republican governors have used in recent months to protest illegal immigration.

“Like millions of Americans, I have been horrified by the images of migrants being sent on buses and planes across the country to be used for political support,” Newsom said in a letter Thursday to US Atty. General Merrick Garland, urging the Justice Department to investigate DeSantis’ actions.

Some of the immigrants said they had been falsely told they would be transported to Boston, where they could receive work authorization, Newsom said.

When asked about the letter during an event on Friday, DeSantis responded with a joke about Newsom’s hair.

“I think her hair gel is interfering with her brain function,” she said.

Newsom took the opportunity to pose his challenge to DeSantis, sharing a tweet from August in which former CBS News anchor Dan Rather floated the idea of ​​a potential primetime debate between the two governors, who are believed to harbor ambitions. presidential.

“The ratings, I bet they would be huge. Who would have the courage to come forward?” said Rather, who published an article on Friday calling the DeSantis and Abbott migrant transports “a shameful stunt.”

DeSantis had not responded publicly as of Friday night.

For months, Newsom has made a habit of comparing California policies with those of Texas and Florida.

This summer, his re-election campaign ran a television ad in Florida criticizing that state’s restrictive abortion policies and a law that bans instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade.

“I urge everyone who lives in Florida to join the fight, or join us in California, where we still believe in freedom: the freedom of speech, the freedom to choose, the freedom from hate and the freedom to love,” Newsom said in the ad. .

Newsom has repeatedly denied that he is considering a presidential run, but many political observers are skeptical, especially as he sets his sights on DeSantis, a likely 2024 Republican candidate.


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