Trump Campaign Responds to DeSantis–Newsom Debate

Former President Trump’s campaign weighed in on the debate Thursday night.
Trump Campaign Responds to DeSantis–Newsom Debate
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower the day after FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago Palm Beach home, in New York City on Aug. 9, 2022. (David 'Dee' Delgado/Reuters)
Jack Phillips
Former President Donald Trump’s campaign responded to Thursday night’s debate between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, accusing the Florida Republican of being “desperate for attention.”

“Instead of actually campaigning and trying to turn around his dismal poll numbers, DeSanctus is now so desperate for attention that he’s debating a Grade A loser like Gavin Newsom,” his campaign spokesman, Steven Cheung, said in a statement Thursday. The statement also accused Mr. DeSantis of being a “wannabe model” and implied he’s too short.

It added that the Florida governor, who is running against President Trump for the 2024 nomination, “doesn’t have his eye on the ball” during his campaign, and “despite falling to FIFTH PLACE in New Hampshire and failing to gain any ground in Iowa for months, DeSantis appears to already be auditioning for a career in reality television” with the Newsom debate.

Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, has repeatedly said that he is not running for president and has backed the incumbent, President Joe Biden. However, with the debate and his recent visit to China, as well as talk of President Biden dropping out of the race due to his age, there has been debate that the governor is secretly vying for his party’s nomination.

The statement also pointed to President Trump’s dominance in the GOP polls for the nomination. A RealClearPolitics aggregate of polls shows that he has only strengthened his lead over Mr. DeSantis and the rest of the field, with 62 percent of voters saying they would vote for the former president.

Meanwhile, the polls show Mr. DeSantis has 13.6 percent, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has 9.6 percent, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy has 4.8 percent, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has 2 percent, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has 0.6 percent.

In the statement, Mr. Cheung made note of a recent HarrisX poll showing that President Trump is leading Mr. DeSantis by 59 percentage points. That same poll, released Thursday, also shows that President Trump is leading President Biden in a hypothetical matchup 46 percent to 42 percent.
Mr. DeSantis should instead “focus” on gaining an advantage over Ms. Haley, according to the Trump campaign statement, claiming the former U.S. ambassador and South Carolina governor has “stolen all of [Mr. DeSantis’s] Never Trump RINO backers or he will soon find himself polling beneath Chris Christie—a place nobody wants to be.”

DeSantis Campaign Response?

As of Friday morning, the DeSantis campaign hasn’t specifically responded to President Trump’s statement. The Epoch Times contacted the campaign for comment Friday.
But on Thursday, DeSantis campaign spokeswoman Christina Pushaw wrote on X that President Trump “is afraid to debate” the Florida governor, adding: “As a former Californian, I can’t stand this sleaze ball politician BUT I appreciate that Gavin Newsom at least had the courage to show up to debate.”

The 45th president has not appeared at any of the Republican primary debates, citing his significant lead in the polls. His campaign has also called on the Republican National Committee to end all primary debates, throw their support behind President Trump, and focus on defeating the Democrats in 2024.

Earlier this week, the DeSantis campaign accused President Trump and Ms. Haley of working together.

“As Donald Trump and Nikki Haley work side-by-side spending tens of millions of dollars to attack Ron DeSantis, Fight Right’s emergence provides welcomed air support,” campaign manager James Uthmeier wrote in a memo, reported The Associated Press, which touted a new DeSantis PAC.

“In the final push for the Iowa Caucus victory, this campaign will proudly fight alongside NBD’s impressive ground game, and Fight Right’s television team, to show the people of Iowa that this is a time for choosing, and Ron DeSantis is the candidate that can WIN!”

People watch a debate between California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a watch party at Manny's in San Francisco, California, on Nov. 30, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
People watch a debate between California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a watch party at Manny's in San Francisco, California, on Nov. 30, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


During the debate, the big-state governors were eager to represent their parties on the national stage as they battled over the economy, pandemic restrictions, and President Biden’s leadership in a Fox News faceoff peppered with policy disputes and personal insults.

“This is a slick, slippery politician whose state is failing,” Mr. DeSantis said of Mr. Newsom.

The California Democrat defended his state, but was equally eager to shift the discussion to Mr. DeSantis’s stagnant 2024 presidential bid.

“How’s that going for you, Ron? You’re down 41 points in your own home state,” said Mr. Newsom, who said he is backing President Biden’s reelection. “Neither of us will be the nominee for a party in 2024.”

Mr. Newsom, California’s 56-year-old term-limited Democratic governor, has positioned himself to seek the presidency someday, but like the rest of his party’s most ambitious leaders, he declined to challenge Biden for the Democratic nomination in 2024. Instead, he’s emerged as a leading defender of the incumbent president and a formal campaign adviser.

“I’m proud of the work Biden and Harris have done,” the California governor said, responding to criticisms that President Biden, at age 81, is too old to run again. “I will take Joe Biden at 100 rather than Ron DeSantis any day of the week at any age.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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