Newsmax panelists got into a heated debate Thursday about the competition between former President Donald Trump and Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who announced his presidential bid Wednesday.
Newsweek senior editor-at-large Josh Hammer sparred with MAGA Inc. spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt about 2024 presidential primary. Leavitt argued DeSantis is not in a good position to compete against the former president in light of the glitches that plagued his Twitter Space launch.
“DeSantis’ botched campaign announcement proves that he and his team are not ready for primetime,” Leavitt said. “He proposes a national federal sales tax, he voted to cut Social Security, he has no plan to end the war in Ukraine. President Trump cut taxes, secured the border, reinvested in our economy. He is the Day One leader that America needs.”
“Look, I mean, Karoline has her talking points and that’s cute and everything, but the reality here is that Republican primary —” Hammer began. (RELATED: Trump Reacts To DeSantis Officially Announcing His 2024 Campaign)
“They’re truth, my talking points are truth,” Leavitt said.
“[Republican primary] voters are ready for a winner. They are sick of losing, they are sick of relitigating an election from two-and-a-half years ago, they are sick of Stormy Daniels and all of the crap,” Hammer continued.
“You sound like a Democrat,” Leavitt interjected.
“This country is going to hell in a handbasket, it’s time to put policy on the agenda and just start winning,” Hammer concluded.
“I’m glad you’re reciting your Democrat talking points, my talking points are truth and the polls prove it,” Leavitt said.
DeSantis officially launched his presidential campaign Wednesday via a live Twitter Space, which underwent technical difficulties as hundreds of thousands of users joined simultaneously. After Twitter CEO Elon Musk canceled and relaunched the space, DeSantis answered questions about his campaign and policy proposals during his potential administration.
Trump has continued to be the frontrunner of the 2024 race after several months spent standing neck-and-neck with DeSantis. A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday found Trump in the lead with 56% support among Republican or Republican-inclined voters. DeSantis came in second with 25% support. Among Republican voters, Trump is currently beating DeSantis 60% to 24%.
The poll surveyed 1,819 adults between May 18 through May 22 with a 2.3% margin of error. Trump’s RealClearPolitics (RCP) average is 53.9%, with DeSantis at 21.3% support.
Hammer told the Daily Caller that Leavitt’s accusation of him sounding like a “Democrat” is “risible” and described the primary as a choice between the “eccentric,” “distracted” Trump and the “disciplined, mission-oriented” DeSantis.
“The notion that choosing the latter makes one a ‘Democrat’ is so risible as to be unworthy of a dignified response,” Hammer told the Caller.
Leavitt later said “DeSantis surrogates” are using Democratic talking points by asserting President Joe Biden “fairly won” the 2020 presidential election.
“DeSantis surrogates keep claiming Joe Biden fairly won the 2020 election and that voters are tired of President Trump because of fake stories from the liberal media. These are the pathetic attacks you would expect from Democrats, not alleged America First Republicans,” she said.