The biggest takeaways from the Ron DeSantis vs. Charlie Crist debate

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Democrat Charlie Crist debated on Monday. They disagreed on abortion, immigration and education. DeSantis, America’s youngest governor, also criticized Crist for his age. Something is loading.

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FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and Democrat Charlie Crist, a former congressman, faced off Monday in their only pre-election debate to decide who will lead Florida for the next four years.

DeSantis has become a fan favorite to run for president in 2024, especially if former President Donald Trump doesn’t run. Republicans have an advantage in Florida as they have passed registered Democrats by 270,000 in the state, and DeSantis has also significantly outranked Crist, who served as Republican governor from 2007 to 2011.

Monday’s debate was Crist’s main chance to try to close the gap in the polls, which favors DeSantis. Throughout the debate, the audience applauded both sides. Liz Quirantes, the CBS12 debate host, repeatedly told the audience not to clap, but they ignored her.

Here are the main takeaways from the evening, hosted at the Fort Pierce Theatre:

DeSantis asked if he would serve four years as governor

During the debate, Crist accused DeSantis of being driven more by his future ambitions than a desire to be governor of Florida. At one point, he asked DeSantis directly if he would commit to serving all four years, even though the two candidates had agreed to debate the rules that they could not ask each other questions.

DeSantis paused and then asked the moderator if it was time to speak.

“I know Charlie wants to talk about 2024 and Joe Biden, but let me be clear: the only old, worn donkey I want to put out to pasture is Charlie Crist,” he said, referring to the symbol. Democrat politics.

The rejoinder had the effect of dodging the question while disparaging President Joe Biden, who turns 80 in a month, and Crist, 66, in the process. DeSantis, 44, is America’s youngest governor.

Crist tried to steer the conversation towards abortion

Democrats hope to make inroads with voters after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that guaranteed a national right to abortion. Crist is no exception, promising to protect the right to abortion. He brought up abortion rights several times throughout the debate before the moderator asked about it.

“You talk about all these other issues because you don’t want to talk about a woman’s right to choose,” Crist told DeSantis at one point.

DeSantis signed a bill this year that makes abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy illegal, including cases of rape and incest. He did not answer directly when asked whether he would seek to further limit abortion if he receives a second term.

The Florida law is being challenged in court.

DeSantis linked Crist to Biden

During the election campaign, DeSantis rarely mentions Crist’s name. When the two squared off on Monday, he called Biden’s policies on everything from economic policy to energy policy “Biden-Crist” policies. Crist, he said, frequently voted with Biden.

DeSantis’ frequent criticism of Biden is just one reason many in political circles believe the governor will seek the White House in 2024. Biden also lost Florida to Trump in 2020. Trump also won the state in 2016 but made inroads four years later. .

On Monday, Crist called out DeSantis for his focus on the president. Crist has openly supported and embraced Biden, and the president is expected to campaign with Crist in Florida on November 1.

Crist presented himself as a unifier

Crist sent a message to his campaign in much the same way Biden did in 2020 – portraying himself as someone who is a unifier and has experience. The implication he is trying to get across is that he views DeSantis as a MAGA Republican and that he can defeat DeSantis the same way Biden defeated Trump.

Crist cast DeSantis as a “bully” throughout the debate. He alluded to when DeSantis told students at one of his events in March to take off their face masks, saying “we have to stop with this covid theater.”

“We know you like to bully people,” Crist said of the exchange, which went viral.

He accused DeSantis of trying to ‘whitewash’ the state’s approach to education by limiting certain instructions on race and of using migrants as ‘props for your political gain’ when he sent them from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

“You have to lead by uniting people, not dividing them,” Crist said. “He talks about dividing us up all night. That’s what he does. That’s who you are. That’s what he does.”

The only issue Crist and DeSantis agreed on was that the Parkland shooter, who killed 17 people at a Florida high school, should have been sentenced to death.

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