Video: The Top 5 Moments From Last Nights DeSantis vs. Newsom Debate

Newsom spent the night making up statistics without mentioning any sources

Fox News

(Fox News) The Fox News debate between Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had several tense moments as the two governors clashed over policies related to abortion, crime, taxes and COVID-19.

The first-of-its-kind showdown hosted by Fox News’ Sean Hannity put a spotlight on various areas of disagreement between Newsom and DeSantis. The two governors have sought to tackle key issues facing their states with divergent approaches.

Here are five of the most memorable moments from the debate.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom sparred on various topics during the debate Thursday evening. (Fox News)

1. DeSantis confronts Newsom with sexually-explicit children’s book

During an exchange about Florida’s laws prohibiting certain sexually-explicit books in schools, DeSantis defended his actions by showing Newsom images of one of the books banned.

“This is a book that’s in some of the schools in California — in Florida, it’s not consistent with our standards — it’s called ‘Genderqueer.’ Some of it’s blacked out. You probably would not be able to put this on air,” DeSantis remarked.

“This is pornography. It’s cartoons. It’s aimed at children and it’s wrong,” he continued. “So, this should not be in schools. When people on the left say that somehow you are ‘banning books’ by removing this from a young kid’s classroom — this is not age appropriate.”

He added he would pursue a policy to outlaw such books from classrooms nationwide if elected president, explaining that some states shouldn’t be allowed to “trample on the rights of parents.”


Newsom, though, accused DeSantis of waging a “cultural purge” of books.

“You want to roll back hard-earned national rights on voting rights, on civil rights, and LGBTQ rights, on women’s rights, not just access to abortion, but also access to contraception. You want to weaponize grievance, you are focusing on false separateness. You in particular run on a banning binge, a cultural purge, intimidating and humiliating people,” Newsom said.

“We actually require parental engagement on curriculum development, and we don’t completely lie. We don’t require K through 3rd grade sexual education. That doesn’t happen until middle school. What you’re doing is using education as a sword for your cultural purge,” Newsom added.

2. ‘Freedom to defecate in public’

DeSantis blasted Newsom during the debate for claiming that California, not Florida is the “freedom state.” He noted that while California had certain freedoms other states did not, they were freedoms such as the “freedom to defecate in public.”

“Gavin Newsom at one point tried to say that California was the ‘freedom state,’” DeSantis remarked. “I just kind of laughed, like, you’re locking people down, you’re doing all this stuff. Then, I thought about it and California does have freedoms that other states don’t.”

“You have the freedom to defecate in public in California,” he added. “You have the freedom to pitch a tent on Sunset Boulevard. You have the freedom to create a homeless encampment under a freeway and light it on fire. You have the freedom to have an open air drug market. You have the freedom that, if you’re an illegal alien, to get all these taxpayer benefits.

“So those are freedoms,” the Florida governor concluded. “They’re not the freedoms our founding fathers envisioned, but they have contributed to the destruction of the quality of life in California. And the results speak for themselves.”

Newsom then responded, saying he “loved the rant on freedom” and accused DeSantis of criminalizing teachers, doctors, librarians and women that “seek reproductive care.”

“Spare me this notion of freedom,” Newsom said. “Ask the folks at Disney about freedom and free enterprise.”

Later in the debate, to highlight the so-called “freedom to defecate,” DeSantis held up a map of San Francisco showing how human feces has been discovered in public in nearly every area of the city.

3. ‘Shame on you!’: Newsom forcefully corrects DeSantis on pronunciation of ‘Kamala Harris’

During a discussion on school closures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Newsom forcefully interjected to scold DeSantis about how he pronounced Vice President Kamala Harris’ first name.

“And by the way, it’s not Kamala Harris,” Newsom said. “Shame on you! It’s Kamala Harris, Ron. It’s Kamala Harris, Madame Vice President to you. Kamala Harris,” Newsom said.

“Stop insulting,” he added.

While Newsom attempted to correct DeSantis’ pronunciation, the Florida governor continued to argue that the long-term closures of schools during the pandemic has harmed children who were forced into remote learning.

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