Harris, Biden Advisers Irked by Newsom’s Plan to Debate Ron DeSantis: ‘Disrespectful’

Political advisers to both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are reportedly annoyed with Democrat California Governor’s plan to debate with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is a GOP presidential hopeful.

“It’s disrespectful,” said an outside adviser to Harris, according to an NBC News report on Sunday. “Joe Biden is running with Kamala Harris. That’s the Democratic ticket.”

According to the report, the adviser is one of several in the Biden/Harris orbit that have started to consider Newsom a nuisance, partly because of his planned debate with DeSantis. 

Although numerous Biden advisers no longer see Newsom as a possible primary challenger to the president, they believe the planned debate could carry more risks than rewards. 

The debate, slated to be hosted by Sean Hannity and televised on Fox News, has the potential to make some voters believe Governor Newsom is running a shadow campaign against President Biden in 2024, said the report. 

The debate comes as many Democrat voters have expressed a desire for a change at the top of the ticket, according to the report. 

The debate has been viewed even more negatively by those in the vice president’s orbit, with some reportedly seeing it as an attempt by the California governor to position himself ahead of the vice president for the 2028 Democrat presidential primary. 

Newsom challenged DeSantis to a debate earlier this month

Governor Newsom made the standing challenge to debate the Florida governor this month, an invitation that DeSantis seemingly accepted. However, the two camps have yet to agree on the format and rules, calling into question if the event will go ahead as planned. 

According to the report, not all in President Biden’s camp expressed concern about the debate prospects, with some saying such a move could be advantageous to Biden’s reelection chances.

“What he’s doing here is appropriate for a surrogate. It would not be appropriate for the president or the vice president or the vice president,” said one Biden adviser, according to NBC News.

“We’re in close touch with him,” said the adviser. “This is the kind of thing we want surrogates to do.”

Kevin Munoz, spokesperson for the Biden campaign, expressed a similar sentiment and told NBC News that Newsom and the campaign have closely coordinated.

“Governor Newsom is a strong partner and surrogate for the Biden-Harris campaign,” said Munoz. “We coordinate closely on campaigning, whether it’s fundraising or media. When he brought the debate idea to us, we endorsed it.”