Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking the fight to former President Donald Trump, calling out the polling leader's refusal to debate as an indication Trump cannot beat President Joe Biden.
"He's not showing up: He's missing in action," DeSantis told HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" on Friday night. "He owes it to voters to show up and defend his record. And I think he thinks he can take a juiced [up] poll, and then people don't get to vote. That's not the way the system works.
"You've got to go earn votes. So I'm showing up."
DeSantis is calling out Trump to a debate, like he has California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, pointing to his performance in the second debate — during which, pundits noted, he was presidential.
"I was the one guy that people said, 'You know what? This guy is actually acting like a president when the rest were not,'" DeSantis told Maher. "And so, OK, there I am. I told Donald, 'Let's do a debate.'
"I'm debating your governor, Gavin Newsom," DeSantis continued to Hollywood host Bill Maher.
"But let's do a debate with me and him. I'll do it."
DeSantis rejected Maher's belief Trump is unbeatable.
"That's not true," DeSantis said. "So, one, I don't think he can win the election. I could win the election. Two, I don't think he could actually get the job done that we need to do.
"For example: COVID. I think we need accountability for what this government did to this country with the COVID restrictions, mandates, and lockdowns. Donald Trump is not going to do that. He says he did everything right. He says he saved millions of lives with lockdowns. He claims his MNRA shot saved 100 million lives."
DeSantis said Trump would not "clean house" at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, "or any of that. I will do that. I will get the job done."
DeSantis repeated his campaign mantra that Florida has done it right on COVID-19, despite negative spin from critics, saying people have voted on that with their feet and moved to the state en masse.
"Shouldn't it be that we're the No. 1 state for in-migration?" DeSantis asked about criticism of his COVID-19 response in Florida. "I mean, if we did so bad, people would have been leaving Florida.
"People are coming; wealth's moving into the state; our economy's done better than any other large state. And education, we're now ranked, I think, in the top five on most metrics in education.
"Now, that wasn't true when I was a kid growing up in Florida. So we did it right, but what we did is we understood you can't stop society because of one respiratory virus. That's not even the way to help health overall."
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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