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The California Republican Party's Fall 2023 Convention kicked off on Friday. Speaking during the lunchtime slot, Trump attacked DeSantis.
"I'm the one who turned Florida red,” Trump claimed.
DeSantis was elected as the governor of Florida in 2018, and then cruised to reelection by crushing his Democratic opponent by nearly 20 points in 2022.
During his speech, Trump also alleged that he would win California if not for a "rigged election system." Trump lost California by more than 5 million votes in 2020 – when Joe Biden handily beat Trump by a margin of 63% to 34%.
While speaking during the dinnertime session at the GOP convention, DeSantis fired back at Trump.
"I understand that one of my residents was here earlier saying that he turned Florida red," DeSantis said of Trump.
DeSantis then jabbed Trump, "I just wish if he was the one that turned Florida red, that he wouldn’t have turned Georgia and Arizona blue because that's not been good for us at all."
Georgia and Arizona – typically purple states – both elected Democratic senators while Trump was president. With the critical victories, Democrats were able to take back control of the Senate. Joe Biden also captured both crucial swing states in the 2020 election.
Also on Friday, DeSantis held a rally at the Los Angeles Harbor Grain Terminal in Long Beach – where he challenged Trump to a one-on-one debate.
DeSantis said of Trump, "I could serve for two terms. I don’t think a lame-duck president is going to cut it."
"He needs to come, and he needs to defend his record," DeSantis said of Trump dodging the GOP primary debates.
“I remember going to his rallies in 2016. A lot of the things he said then — draining the Swamp, Mexico paying for the border wall, eliminating the national debt — all these things he didn’t do," DeSantis said. "And now he is running on a lot of the same promises he made back then. I think he owes it to come out and debate.”
DeSantis proposed a one-on-one debate against Trump with Fox News host Sean Hannity as the moderator.
"He's had a lot to say about me on social media over the last nine months — well now we can get up there, and we can make this case in person," he added.
DeSantis also took Trump to task during an appearance on "Real Time with Bill Maher."
"One: I don’t think he can win the election. I could win the election," DeSantis declared. "Two: I don't think he can 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 gonna do that," DeSantis said to applause from the liberal audience.
"He says he did everything right. He says he saved millions of lives with lockdowns. He claims his mRNA shots saved 100 million lives," the Republican governor told host Bill Maher. "He's not going to clean house at CDC, NIH, FDA. I will do that. I will get the job done."
"The one thing about me in Florida, and even my critics will acknowledge – if he says he’s going to do something, he will follow through and get the job done," he continued. "So it’s about the country. Are we gonna get the country turned around or not? I don’t think he’s a vehicle that’s doing and I have been when I supported them on things I liked. I’ve said it, but I’ve been critical about the things that he didn’t do, and I’m gonna continue to do that."
Maher challenged DeSantis over supporting Republican candidates who questioned election results. DeSantis pointed out the hypocrisy of Democrats disputing the election results of the 2016 election.
"Your friends in Hollywood were cutting ads telling the Electoral College to vote against Trump in the Electoral College because it was stolen," DeSantis shot back. "They said Russia stole the election, for years they said that. So don’t act like this is like a unique thing in modern history of the country."
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Paul Sacca is a staff writer for Blaze News.