A Republican governor running for president debated a Democratic governor who made clear he is not running for president — and Nikki Haley’s momentum on the trail continued with a key endorsement. Also, a look ahead to the fourth Republican primary debate, on Wednesday.
Here are the campaign updates you may have missed last week.
Florida Gov. DeSantis spars with California Gov. Gavin Newsom
In what was billed as “The Great Red vs. Blue State Debate,” Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom sparred over some of the most prominent issues in American politics during a debate Thursday on Fox News, with each of them touting their records running two of the country’s most populous blue and red states.
The faceoff was largely a demonstration of the deep differences between the two governors’ political perspectives and visions for the country — and their respective parties. However, in one of the more pointed attacks, Newsom noted that there is one thing that makes the two not-so-different.
“Neither of us will be our party’s nominee in 2024,” he said in a barely veiled jab at DeSantis’ current campaign for the White House.
Newsom, who has been accused by Republicans of running his own “shadow campaign” to succeed President Joe Biden, seemed intent on making it clear that he will not be the Democratic nominee in 2024. When asked directly by Fox News moderator Sean Hannity if he would unequivocally say he would not run in 2024, Newsom quickly replied, “Correct.”
Like he has been doing around the country, Newsom continued to pledge his support and boast about the Biden-Harris agenda and their accomplishments. DeSantis did the opposite, criticizing the White House’s handling of the border and the cost of living to explain why the country needs a Republican in charge.
The 90-minute debate was full of interruptions and crosstalk, with Hannity often cutting in to plead for the governors to let each other speak. Both camps claimed victory following the contest, and DeSantis’ campaign team deemed the debate “the biggest one yet” as he continues to push for a breakthrough in the primary race against front-runner Donald Trump.
Haley gets an anti-Trump boost
On Tuesday, Americans For Prosperity Action (AFP) — a prominent political organization backed by billionaire Charles Koch and other wealthy conservatives — endorsed former U.N. Ambassador Haley over Trump in the GOP primary.
The group’s backing comes as Haley continues her polling momentum, though she continues to trail Trump by double digits. Some experts said AFP Action ‘s support could be significant, given their substantial resources and commitment to trying to elevate an anti-Trump alternative.
In the group’s last public filing, they reported raising more than $70 million. AFP Action also quickly hit the ground following their endorsement. On Thursday, members were knocking on doors in Columbia, South Carolina, making their case for Haley to residents.
A memo from AFP Action described Haley as offering “the opportunity to turn the page on the current political era, to win the Republican primary and defeat Joe Biden next November.”
On Wednesday, Haley told Fox News in an interview that AFP Action is “the most conservative grassroots organization in the country,” responding to criticism from DeSantis, who has referred to her as part of the Republican establishment.
Trump also tried to downplay the value of the endorsement. In a post on social media, he called AFP Action “losers.”
“I was never in the running because I’m all about Making America, not the outside World, Great Again,” he wrote.
Preview of the fourth GOP primary debate
The fourth GOP primary debate is almost here: On Wednesday, at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, the shrinking GOP primary field will take the stage with the start of primary voting less than six weeks away.
DeSantis, Haley and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy are all likely to be on stage. However, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie– — who has hitherto qualified for every debate — still appears to be short of meeting the polling requirements set by the national party.
The candidates have until 48 hours before the debate to meet these requirements.
Trump will once again not participate in the debate, despite other candidates who have repeatedly criticized his absences. Instead, he will partake in a town hall with Fox News host Sean Hannity one day earlier and then attend a fundraiser on Wednesday.
ABC News’ Hannah Demissie Averi Harper, Lalee Ibssa, Jonathan Karl, Nicholas Kerr, Rick Klein, Will McDuffie and Isabella Murray contributed to this report.