Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

Analysis | When two Americas face each other in a debate

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The governors of Florida and California clashed in a debate on Fox News.

  • Frédéric Arnould (View profile)Frédéric Arnould< /li>

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Governors Ron DeSantis and Gavin Newsom had the strange idea of ​​wanting to debate to defend their political visions of the two states which do not have much in common, the Florida and California.

Fox News took them at their word and last night's result was representative of American politics less than a year away of the presidential election.

On paper, this debate between two governors so opposite on the political spectrum, and representatives of states diametrically opposed on all levels, would deliver a collision of two different visions of the United States. The main difference between the two men? One is a candidate for the 2024 presidential nomination, the other is not. Well, in principle.

Because the first is struggling to be able to demonstrate that he can last in a race for the White House that is almost rigged since his victory seems illusory, and the second is struggling to silence suspicions of a challenge to Joe Biden. Notwithstanding the fact that the first is 45 years old and the second 56 years old, much younger than the presumptive Republican and Democratic candidates of 2024, aged 81 and 77 respectively.

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The debate between two candidates who are unlikely to make the final in the 2024 presidential election gave a good idea of ​​the great American political divide

On the right, the Trumpist red state governor, Ron DeSantis, and on the left, the symbol the right loves to hate, the quintessential blue state governor, Gavin Newsom. Even on the American map, there are no two states more different than Florida and California. The only thing the two have in common is being bordered by an ocean.

In practice, refereed without surprise by Sean Hannity, the host of Fox News, a conservative who has never hidden his support for Donald Trump, this debate that some dreamed of seeing for the real presidential election of 2024 really delivered. some interesting thoughts on the state of American politics a little less than a year before the race for the White House.

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Ron DeSantis is having difficulty distancing himself from Donald Trump in the Republican race for the White House.

Second, these two states are far from truly representing the quintessence of the United States. Having to choose between blue California and red Florida, voters in the Midwest, the South or even the northern states of the United States probably found little inspiring in this Fox News debate show.

Crime rate, management of the migrant crisis or the pandemic, number of shooting victims, parents' rights in education, access to abortion, everything has been there and both DeSantis and Newsom have listed statistics to prove that they had a better way of solving the problems in their state. On all these subjects, viewers will not have learned much that would change their political affiliation.

If there was one person who had everything to lose in this media event, it was Ron DeSantis. A serious opponent of Donald Trump a year ago, the governor of Florida presented himself as a potential candidate capable of uniting the crowd of MAGA (Make America Great Again) supporters and obtaining the nomination of the Republican Party. A sort of Trump without the scandals and court cases who could easily beat Joe Biden or any other Democratic candidate.

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Donald Trump supported Ron DeSantis in the Florida gubernatorial election

Having easily and handily won a second term as Florida's strongman, DeSantis has proven to be rather weak since his chaotic campaign launch on X with Elon Musk. Very quickly overwhelmed by the dazzling attacks of the one who had supported him in 2018 in his race for governor of his state, the Floridian continues to fall in the polls among the Republicans, unable to assert himself against the 'ex-President Trump.

Not very skilled in what we call in the United States, retail politics, this ability to communicate and act with empathy with voters, Ron DeSantis delivered in this somewhat surreal debate, once again a performance that will not change not much in this Republican race for the White House. Especially since he cannot dethrone the champion of all categories of Republicans who does not even deign to debate with his competitors, Donald Trump.

But, the big question remains: what is Gavin Newsom looking for by participating in this kind of show? Does he want to prove that he would be much better than a hesitant Joe Biden, sometimes confused in the face of a more vigorous DeSantis, not necessarily a good debater but more lively on responses and invectives. Or demonstrate that he is more pugnacious in the face of a vengeful Donald Trump who wants to regain his chair in the White House that he lost in 2020?

His participation in this Fox debate cannot ignore recent polls which have shown that voters fear that Joe Biden is too old for the job and that they disapprove of his vice president, Kamala Harris.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Few Democrats think that Californian Newsom will run in 2024. The primary calendar is also closed almost everywhere to avoid surprises. Barring an unforeseen event that would force Joe Biden to withdraw from the race.

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Would Gavin Newsom be the Democratic plan B in the event of Joe Biden's surprise withdrawal for 2024?

Whatever speculation surrounds Newsom's ambitions, Democrats insist that his vigorous defense of the current Democratic president and the party's values ​​has made him a asset to the White House and the president's re-election efforts. After all, the California governor is one of the official co-chairs of Joe Biden's re-election campaign committee.

Still, the flamboyant Californian has built a national profile, largely by taking her progressive message directly to red states such as Florida. Asked about his ambitions for 2024 by the Fox News host, Newsom only repeated what he has been saying all along: Joe Biden will be re-elected against Donald Trump.

So was this a politically insignificant debate between two candidates who will not be in the 2024 race? The future will tell.

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