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Newsom Is Better at This Than DeSantis

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) have some very important things in common, including governing large states, easy reelection wins in 2022, and presidential aspirations. That said, there are also some big differences. One is far-right and the other is moderate-left. One is a 2024 candidate, and the other, at least for now, is waiting until 2028. And one is far better at politics than the other.

At the outset, let us note that DeSantis' case for the presidency rests upon his record of securing right-wing legislative victories, aided by a very amenable state legislature. But the fact is, Newsom can make the exact same claim. Different kinds of laws in each case, but nonetheless, a lengthy record of implementing their respective political programs. So, this part of "politics" is a wash.

Meanwhile, while DeSantis turns people off with his unpleasant voice, his deer-in-a-headlights expression and his general unwillingness to interact with people and/or answer questions, Newsom has been showing off his retail campaign skills. The California Governor just went into the lion's den (well, the Fox's den) and sat for an interview with Sean Hannity. You can see it here, if you wish:

The interview has gotten raves for its substance and its lack of blather. Part of that is that Hannity, unlike his recently departed colleague Tucker Carlson, is willing to act like a grown-up sometimes. But a big part of it is that Newsom was really good. In particular, he took ownership of the biggest gaffe of his political career (the French Laundry party during the pandemic), conceding it was "dumb" and a "terrible mistake." When was the last time DeSantis admitted to even the tiniest mistake?

It is interesting that the circumstances of this political cycle have put the two governors in similar positions: Do they challenge a president from their party in 2024, or do they wait until 2028? Obviously, it's a different calculation when the primary opponent is a former president in serious legal trouble as opposed to a sitting president who isn't. Nonetheless, it sure looks like the non-candidate Newsom is doing a lot more for his political future than the candidate DeSantis is. As we have seen with the Florida Governor, the moment you announce, you are placed under a giant microscope. Many have wilted under the bright lights, and DeSantis is at risk of doing the same. Meanwhile, Newsom is getting his name out there, meeting donors and voters, and connecting with future campaign staffers, all without the intensity and pressure of being an official candidate. Obviously, 4½ years is a long time away, but Newsom is doing a skillful job of positioning himself to be the 2028 frontrunner. (Z)

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