California Governor Gavin Newsom said that plans are still in the works for a debate with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, but he told Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd that arrangements hit a snag over a “venue issue.”
“They wanted thousands of people and make it a performance. I wasn’t interested in that. We were pretty clear on that. And so I think we’re getting closer,” Newsom said.
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Newsom and DeSantis agreed in early August to debate, but the sides have disagreed over the details. Sean Hannity was to have moderated the event on Fox News.
On Meet the Press interview, Todd asked Newsom whether he was “still okay” with Hannity as moderator.
“Well, I mean, it’s two against one,” Newsom said.
Then he elaborated. “Bring it on. … It goes to the point about rural California, goes to about red states, blue states. … I go out there on this PAC and to these red states, I’m making a point. And by the way it’s just not in the South. I just came back from Utah. I was up there in Idaho, Montana. We’re in Nevada, we’re in other red states. And we’re listening and learning. And if I’m going to go to those red states, I might as well go to the belly of the beast on these networks …where they’re not hearing from us.”
The interview, which will air later on Sunday in Todd’s final stint as moderator of the 76-year-old show, also highlighted what Newsom thinks of DeSantis: “He’s functionally authoritarian.”
“I worry about the fetishness for autocracy that we’re seeing not just from Trump, but around the world, and notably across the country,” Newsom said. “I’ve made the point about DeSantis that I think he’s functionally authoritarian. I’m worried more, in many respects, about Trumpism which transcends well beyond his term and time in tenure.”
He also said that the “vengeance in Donald Trump’s heart right now” is more of a threat to democracy than DeSantis.
Newsom also talked about the condition of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), telling Todd that he didn’t “want to make another appointment” to fill her seat if she decides to retire before her term is over.
“If we have to do it, we’ll do it,” Newsom said.
He said that he would fulfill his pledge to appoint a Black woman to the seat, but made clear that it would be an “interim appointment.”
“I don’t want to get involved in the primary,” Newsom said, adding that he does not want to “tip the balance” in the Democratic primary. That would seemingly eliminate Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) as a prospective appointee, as she is running in the race against Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA).
“We hope we never have to make this decision, but I abide by what I’ve said very publicly on a consistent basis,” Newsom said.
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