California Governor Gavin Newsom appeared flustered during Thursday night’s debate after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis picked apart his record on COVID-19.
Debate moderator Sean Hannity asked the governors about their radically different approaches to handling the pandemic, noting that both states had lower per-capita death rates lower than the national average.
Newsom first took aim at DeSantis by portraying him as a firm supporter of extreme COVID measures, pointing out that Florida declared a state of emergency before California. “Let’s talk about your record on covid. You pass an emergency declaration before the state of California did. You closed down your beaches, your bars, your restaurants. It’s a fact. You had quarantines, you had quarantines, you had checkpoints all over the state of Florida,” Newsom said.
DeSantis’ COVID record has long been seen as a positive among Republican voters, as he opened his state just weeks after the initial lockdowns while other states, including California, remained locked down for months.
“The stats are very clear. On a per capita age-adjusted basis, California and Florida are basically the same. Now, why is that important? Because Gavin Newsom did huge damage to people in California,” DeSantis stated. “He ruined livelihoods. We reopened the state very quickly. We saved thousands of jobs. We saved hundreds of thousands of jobs, thousands of businesses. We had our kids in school. He had the kids locked out of school because of the teachers’ union. That is having a generational impact.”
“California has one of the lowest literacy rates in the country. In the most recent NAEP exam, Florida came in number three for fourth grade reading. California was far, far behind,” the Florida governor continued. He then demanded to know why California did not open schools in the summer of 2020, which Florida opted to do.