(The Hill) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) challenged Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to a debate on Friday, following Democrats’ outrage over DeSantis’ decision to charter two planes of migrants that landed in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.
“Hey [Gov. Ron DeSantis], clearly you’re struggling, distracted, and busy playing politics with people’s lives,” Newsom said in a tweet. “Since you have only one overriding need — attention — let’s take this up & debate. I’ll bring my hair gel. You bring your hairspray. Name the time before Election Day.”
Newsom and DeSantis are both running for reelection this year, and DeSantis is considered a top potential presidential candidate for the GOP in 2024. Speculation has also swirled about Newsom running for the Democratic nomination amid doubts that President Biden will run for a second term.
Both governors have also stepped up efforts to enact policies in line with their respective party’s priorities and platforms. Newsom has taken a hard-line stance on protecting abortion rights, and on Thursday launched a billboard campaign in seven Republican-led states with some of the strictest abortion laws.
The billboards tout California’s abortion access. He also previously ran ads in Florida, criticizing DeSantis and encouraging Florida residents to move to California.
DeSantis, a staunch supporter of former President Trump and his immigration policies, chartered two planes of migrants from San Antonio, Texas, which landed in Martha’s Vineyard, a common vacation destination for the wealthy in New England.
DeSantis and other GOP governors of southern border states, including Govs. Greg Abbott (Texas) and Doug Ducey (Ariz.), have transported migrants who have crossed the southern border into the U.S. across state lines into Democratic-led states and cities.
Democrats, including Newsom, are fuming over the move. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D), a leading progressive, slammed DeSantis on Thursday, accusing the governor of chartering the flights as part of a political stunt.
Newsom’s tweet Friday came in response to a separate post from veteran journalist Dan Rather last month, where he suggested that the new head of CNN set up a debate between the two governors.
“Two governors of big states, potential presidential candidates,” Rather said. “Prime time. Ratings I bet would be huge. Who would have the courage to show up?”