Gov. Newsom Spurns Allegations That President Biden Opposes Proposed DeSantis Debate

VP Harris advisor told press ‘It’s disrespectful – Joe Biden is running with Kamala Harris – that’s the Democratic ticket’

Governor Gavin Newsom denounced reports made earlier in the week that President Joe Biden is opposed to his proposed debate with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday, saying that the President is instead supportive of the debate.

For about a year, a debate between Newsom and DeSantis has long been rumored. Both Governors have had a long history of slighting the other state, from Newsom running ads in Florida praising California, to DeSantis backing sanctuary state flights for migrants to California, to both Governors fighting over companies like Disney placing jobs in their respective states. This growing tension, as well as Newsom and DeSantis being seen as likely Presidential challengers in the next few presidential election cycles, led to both agreeing to an off-election debate earlier this month.

Currently both sides are deadlocked over some of the debate terms. This includes basic planning points of a date and location. However, even with the debate currently stalled, opinions have continued to fly about the debate. This week, the White House weighed in, with a largely mixed response. Advisors for Biden said that the debate might lead people to think that Newsom would be running against Biden in 2024 for the Democratic nomination, despite the Governor stating multiple times that he wouldn’t and polls showing that 70% of Californian voters wouldn’t want him to. Others also voiced concern over the debate giving DeSantis boost needed to overtake Donald Trump in the polls.

More concerning for Biden’s campaign is that the debate could give DeSantis the boost needed to finally overtake Donald Trump in Republican candidate polling, and give Biden a fresh threat rather than a 2020 rematch.

Other advisors for Biden did note that the debate could actually be a good thing for the party, as it would be a platform to put out party policies early and would give the Biden team valuable debate tape to prep with over likely 2024 debate questions.

“What he’s doing here is appropriate for a surrogate. It would not be appropriate for the president or the vice president,” a Biden advisor told members of the press on Sunday. “We’re in close touch with him. This is the kind of thing we want surrogates to do.”

In addition, some advisors have even said that Biden himself endorsed the idea of a Newsom-DeSantis debate.

Debate dates draw nearer

“Governor Newsom is a strong partner and surrogate for the Biden-Harris campaign,” added Biden campaign spokesman Kevin Munoz. “We coordinate closely on campaigning, whether it’s fundraising or media. When he brought the debate idea to us, we endorsed it.”

Meanwhile advisors for Vice President Kamala Harris said that she was firmly against the debate. As Harris is currently trying to maneuver in place for a 2028 presidential run, her team sees the debate as something that is both overshadowing her second race as Vice President in 2024 and a huge leap for Newsom to position himself in the 2028 race.

On Sunday, a Harris advisor told some members of the press that “It’s disrespectful. Joe Biden is running with Kamala Harris. That’s the Democratic ticket.”

The wishy-washy response by the White House made headlines earlier in the week, further putting the proposed debate into question. To combat this, Governor Newsom announced on Thursday that Biden’s team was actually for the debate, saying that the initial negative responses did not reflect their point of view.

“I don’t know of the opinions,” said Newsom. “I got a call from the White House saying, ‘That does not reflect our point of view.’ So, we’ll leave it at that.”

Newsom also added that he still wasn’t sure if the debate itself would still be happening because of several format disagreements with DeSantis still unresolved.

“We’ll see,” continued Newsom. “It is a very public submission of debate parameters. We’ll see if it lands. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. If it does, it does.”

Going unaddressed Thursday were the comments from Harris’ team, who remain firmly against the debate. Meanwhile, debate experts told the Globe on Thursday that the chance that the debate could now happen was at 50-50, as weeks have gone by without progress and the proposed November dates become closer.

“They’re still talking about it, which is a good sign,” said Chicago-based debate preparation specialist Lauren Kowalski. “But neither side has really compromised on any of the remaining issues. Newsom still does not want an audience, while DeSantis does for example. There’s not much time left to plan it out by November. So, it’s good that they’re still talking and Biden isn’t against it now, but there is still much to do before the debate is officially on.”

More on the proposed debate is likely to come in the next few weeks.

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