Gavin Newsom airs anti-GOP ad in Florida. ‘Let’s talk about what’s going on in America’

·3 min read
Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Gov. Gavin Newsom, fueling speculation that he’s interested in the White House, unveiled an ad Sunday that will air in Florida, pitting him squarely against former President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Newsom, who is expected to win re-election to a second term as governor in November, urges viewers to “join us in California, where we still believe in freedom.” The ad is scheduled to run Monday.

Newsom has been aggressively promoting California’s strong support for abortion rights, gun regulation and environmental protection in recent days, as Supreme Court rulings have weakened laws in all three areas.

The ad, running on Fox News stations in Florida and posted on Twitter Sunday by Newsom’s campaign, tries to draw a sharp contrast with the conservative DeSantis, who is said to be weighing a presidential run of his own in 2024.

“It’s Independence Day, so let’s talk about what’s going on in America. Freedom, it’s under attack in your state. Republican leaders, they’re banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors,” Newsom says in the 30-second spot.

“I urge all of you living in Florida to join the fight, or join us in California, where we still believe in freedom — freedom of speech, freedom to choose, freedom from hate and the freedom to love.” As he touts California, there are images of an American flag, beaches and Newsom himself.

A Florida law banning abortion after 15 weeks was to take effect Friday, but a judge has blocked its implementation. The Florida Department of Education has banned certain books from school use, saying they contained information about prohibited topics such as critical race theory.

Newsom, 54, has said he is not running for president, and in May told the San Francisco Chronicle he had “sub-zero interest” in seeking the job. He said he wanted Vice President Kamala Harris, the former U.S. senator from California and state attorney general, to succeed President Joe Biden.

Biden has said he will seek re-election in 2024. But as governor of the nation’s largest state and with millions in campaign cash on hand, Newsom is likely to remain in the presidential conversation if not for 2024, then for 2028 and beyond.

Newsom and DeSantis have been rivals for some time. Newsom has repeatedly boasted California is economically healthier than Florida, even though California’s unemployment rate has been one of the nation’s highest.

In May, the latest data available, California’s unemployment rate was 4.3%, tied for 42nd lowest in the country. Florida’s rate was 3%, tied for 17th, and below the national average of 3.6%.

California continues to have a disproportionate percentage of unemployment claims. In the week ending May 25, it had about 20.5% of all such claims nationwide, even though the state has about 11% of the national workforce. Florida has about 3% of the claims and 7% of the labor force.

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