Ron DeSantis and Gavin Newsom to square off in November debate

Fox News has announced that it will host a debate between two prominent US governors – one a Republican, the other a Democrat – this November.

The first-of-its-kind event will see Florida Governor Ron DeSantis take on California Governor Gavin Newsom.

The 90-minute debate will take place in Georgia and is to be moderated by Fox anchor Sean Hannity, the network said.

The unusual head-to-head will pit two rising stars in their respective parties against each other.

Mr DeSantis, 45, is currently polling second in the race for the Republican nomination though he trails the frontrunner, former President Donald Trump, by more than 40 points, polls indicate.

Mr Newsom, 55, meanwhile, has emerged as a key Joe Biden ally as the president gears up for re-election.

Neither man is a newcomer to politics but both are fresh faces on a national political stage dominated by concerns over the age of both Mr Biden, 80, and Mr Trump, 77.

Opinion polls indicate that the president and ex-president are headed for a rematch of their 2020 contest even though neither are very popular with voters.

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That makes the 30 November debate between the two governors mostly an exercise in positioning for the 2028 presidential election. But the showdown will be one that presents two increasingly divergent visions for America.

Fox News has dubbed it a “red v blue state debate”.

“I’m looking forward to providing viewers with an informative debate about the everyday issues and governing philosophies that impact the lives of every American,” Mr Hannity said in a statement.

Mr Newsom and Mr DeSantis were each elected governor in 2019. Both were re-elected last year – and both have taken sharply different tacks on key issues, from abortion and climate change to gun control and immigration.

In his presidential run, Mr DeSantis has sought to present himself as a Trump-style conservative without Mr Trump’s baggage and with a record in Florida of conservative policy achievements.

For his part, Mr Newsom has doubled down on California’s identity as a beacon of the progressive left.

The California governor has faced speculation he will launch his own bid for president, though he has repeatedly insisted that’s not in the plans.

He has embraced Mr Biden’s campaign for re-election, helping in fundraising efforts and defending the president in media appearances.

After Mr DeSantis takes the stage at the second Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, which is being held in California, Mr Newsom will be waiting in the post-debate spin room to push back on the president’s behalf.

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The prospect of a head-to-head between the two governors was raised by Mr Hannity, a Fox News primetime mainstay, in June during an exclusive sit-down with Mr Newsom.

The Californian, who has often argued that his party is too timid in its messaging, said he could take on Mr DeSantis.

“I would do it one day’s notice with no notes. I look forward to that,” he replied.

This summer, Mr DeSantis accepted the invite and retorted that Mr Newsom would oversee a “Californication of the United States” and bring about the country’s decline.

The November face-off appears to be taking place without a live audience, reportedly at the request of Mr Newsom’s team.

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