Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) dodged questions about a possible 2024 presidential run during his first and only gubernatorial debate with Democratic challenger, Rep. Charlie Crist.
Crist, a former Florida governor, repeatedly referenced DeSantis’ possible White House aspirations in the Monday night debate, where he tried to pin the incumbent down on whether he intends to serve out his entire term if reelected.
“Why don’t you look in the eyes of the people of the state of Florida and say to them, if you’re reelected, you will serve a four-year term as governor?” Crist asked DeSantis.
DeSantis refused to answer Crist’s questions, violating the terms of the debate, but declared he’s set on defeating his 66-year-old challenger in the governor’s race.
“I know that Charlie is interested in talking about 2024 and Joe Biden, but I just want to make things very, very clear: The only worn-out old donkey I’m looking to put out to pasture is Charlie Crist,” said DeSantis.
The diss drew a loud cheer by the crowd that was raucous throughout the evening.
“Gov. DeSantis has taken his eye off the ball. He’s focused on running for president in 2024, and as a result, we have lost things in our state budget,” Crist said.
And in his closing remarks, Crist once again returned to his major debate theme.
“He won’t even tell you that he’ll serve four years if you reelect him,” Crist said of DeSantis.
DeSantis is heavily favored to win reelection in Florida. A Real Clear Politics average of polls has the governor 10 percentage points ahead of Crist with two weeks left in the race.