Gov. DeSantis unloads on Gavin Newsom after the California Governor released campaign ad in Florida

Gov. DeSantis unloads on Gavin Newsom after the California Governor released campaign ad in Florida. (Copyright 2022 by WPLG - All rights reserved.)

CAPE CORAL, Fla. – The war of words is growing between the Governors of the Sunshine State and Golden State.

This week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom began running a television ad in Florida which takes shots at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his policies, while drawing a contrast with California.

“Freedom, it’s under attack in your state. Republican leaders, they’re banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors,” Newsom says while images of DeSantis and former President Donald Trump flash on screen.

DeSantis responded on Friday in Cape Coral when asked about the Newsom ad during a news conference about the cost of prescription drugs.

“Everyone wants to talk about me in Florida,” DeSantis said. ”I mean, like I’m just sitting here like little old me doing my job. I can just tell you this. I was born and raised in this state. And until the last few years, I rarely, if ever, saw a California license plate in the state of Florida. You now see a lot of them. I can tell you. If you go to California, you ain’t seeing very many Florida license plates.”

During the near five-minute response, DeSantis criticized Newsom and his Covid-19 policies. “As he was locking down his citizens, he would then go and have these extravagant dinners at the French Laundry to basically rub his citizens’ noses in the fact that he was treating them like peasants. You know in Florida we weren’t locking them down, we lifted our people up. We made sure to protect individuals’ freedoms,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis also said Florida is much tougher on crime than California. “We would never allow what’s happened in places like San Francisco and L.A., where these areas have been destroyed with drugs and crime and the homeless to happen,” he said. “We take those that seriously, and we believe when people commit crimes, they belong behind bars, not released back onto the street.”

Finally, the Florida Governor claimed that families in California are fleeing the state. “When families are uprooting from the Pacific coast to go almost 3,000 miles in search of a better life, that’s telling you something,” DeSantis said. “Yes, we’ve created a citadel of freedom here that has attracted people, and we’re proud of it. But let’s just be clear, California is driving people away with their terrible governance.”

Newsom has said he has no interest in running for president, but his recent ad is stoking speculation that the 54-year-old Democrat is eyeing national office. DeSantis is a potential 2024 GOP candidate for the White House, but he has rebutted any discussion about a political future outside the state of Florida.

About the Author:

Steve Owen is the Assistant News Director at WPLG, and helps lead the daily news operations.