Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida escalated his explosive feud with California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday, daring the West Coast Democrat to “stop pussyfooting around” and launch a primary challenge against President Joe Biden.
DeSantis, who announced his presidential campaign late last month, took on Newsom during a news conference in Florida in which he was asked about Newsom’s recent comments to Fox News agreeing to a hypothetical debate with DeSantis hosted by Sean Hannity.
“He’s got huge problems in his state –- I mean, like, huge problems in his state,” DeSantis said. “Yet with all those problems, he has a real serious fixation on the state of Florida. I think it’s just bizarre.”
DeSantis then turned to the Democrats’ 2024 primary election, in which Biden is facing only token opposition.
“You know what? Stop pussyfooting around,” DeSantis said. “Are you gonna throw your hat in the ring and challenge Joe? Are you going to get in and do it? Or are you just gonna sit on the sidelines and chirp?”
DeSantis’ jab comes as he challenged former President Donald Trump and other GOP leaders for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Newsom has previously said he would not challenge Biden in 2024 but has taken steps to boost his national profile in recent months.
DeSantis has raised his national profile by being willing to lean into fights against Democrats and the mainstream media.
For example, a pro-DeSantis super political action committee released a video Thursday titled “Punching Back” that highlights DeSantis’ frequent confrontations with the media.
A Newsom spokesperson did not respond directly to DeSantis’ latest comments, but did note that Newsom attended Disneyland’s Pride night this week with company CEO Bob Iger. Disney has sued DeSantis, alleging the governor undertook a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” after the company opposed a Florida law that prevents teachers from discussing sex and transgenderism with young children.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA):
“Stop pussy-footing around. Are you gonna throw your hat in the ring and challenge Joe … or are you just gonna sit on the sidelines and chirp?” pic.twitter.com/f03621Mc4g
— The Recount (@therecount) June 15, 2023
The Associated Press contributed to this article