Sen. Mike Lee: ‘Ron DeSantis cleaned the floor with Gavin Newsom’ at debate

This combination of photos shows California Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, speaking in Sacramento, Calif., on June 24, 2022, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, right, speaking in Sioux Center, Iowa, May 13, 2023.
This combination of photos shows California Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, speaking in Sacramento, Calif., on June 24, 2022, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, right, speaking in Sioux Center, Iowa, May 13, 2023. | Associated Press
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As Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California engaged in a heated debate Thursday night, Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah offered his thoughts in a series of posts on social media.

Lee expressed enthusiasm for Fox News host Sean Hannity serving as the moderator for the live debate.

“I wish the lefty news anchors who usually moderate these things were even half as fair as Sean. They’re not,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, adding that all presidential debates should be moderated by Hannity.

The Utah senator said he fact-checked claims, criticized Newsom, and gave DeSantis points for creativity during the 90-minute show.

Related

Did Ron DeSantis support amnesty, as Gavin Newsom said?

A little over half an hour into the program, headlined “DeSantis vs. Newsom: The Great Red vs. Blue State Debate,” the two high profile governors clashed over immigration and the border.

Newsom claimed DeSantis “supported amnesty” for migrants while in Congress, saying the Florida governor supported former President Barack Obama’s reform.

Lee in a post said the California governor lied about DeSantis’ voting record.

The New York Times categorized Newsom’s statement as “misleading.” DeSantis did vote in favor of a bill that secures amnesty for those in Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. But, as report noted, the same year, he voted against another bill that created a path to citizenship for those in the DACA program.

Gavin Newsom dodged question on abortion

The Utah senator said Newsom was deflecting, calling him narcissistic and “a singularly unlikable guy.” In another post, he said the California governor wouldn’t “answer a single question about abortion”

Newsom did avoid answering Hannity’s question on whether, as governor, he would support any restrictions in the third trimester of pregnancy.

The California governor said late-term abortions were extremely rare, and that he believes the decision “should be up to the mother and her doctor.” Hannity repeated the question several times but Newsom remained firm on his stance.

The wins and losses

Lee quoted DeSantis saying, “California has freedoms we don’t have elsewhere — like the freedom to defecate in public,” following it up with praise for the Florida governor’s use of “a turd map of San Francisco.”

“Everybody needs a turd map now and then,” the Utah senator said.

DeSantis pulled out the heavily marked up map from Open the Books, a nonprofit government watchdog, while criticizing progressive policies in California.

“You may be asking, ‘What is that plotting?’ Well, this is an app where they plot the human feces that are found on the streets of San Francisco, and you see how almost the whole thing is covered,” DeSantis said.

Lee said Newsom was an “amazingly good debater who’s allergic to truth” — which wasn’t exactly a compliment. But he did shout out Newsom’s speechwriter for the “super cheesy” line: “It’s not about red versus blue. It’s about red, white, and blue.”

Sen. Mike Lee’s final verdict, Newsom’s accusations of cheating

Ultimately, “Ron DeSantis cleaned the floor with Gavin Newsom tonight,” Lee said.

“Gavin Newsom succeeded at exactly one thing tonight: refusing to answer a single question,” Lee added in another post.

The debate ended with both governors talking over each other before Hannity offered them the opportunity to continue for another hour, before the start of another ad break. But after the commercials, the moderator informed viewers of Newsom and DeSantis backing out of extending the event.

Politico reported a DeSantis aide who said California first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom was the one to end the debate on her husband's behalf. This was confirmed by another person on the ground.

But Newsom’s camp pushed back: “Ron didn’t want to do the debate anymore, either. Everyone shook hands and left,” a Newsom aide said, per the report.

The California governor’s team also accused DeSantis of cheating by using graphics on stage. Meanwhile, Newsom also criticized Hannity for leveling the questions against California, creating a two-on-one match.