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DeSantis-Newsom Debate Highlights Contentious Divides: WSJK (Champaign, IL) Fox News Interview

Updated: Jan 31

Returning to the Stevie Jay broadcasting network located in nearby Champaign, Illinois, President John Pudner continued his analysis as Fox News Radio's post-debate commentator for the "Red vs. Blue" debate between Presidential candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and possible Presidential hopeful and California Governor Gavin Newsom. While both analyzed how both future hopefuls did and how, if at all, this would bring about concrete implications in 2024, Pudner and host Stevie Jay turned most of their attention toward how the debate reflected the current state of our Republic - namely, how divided, elitist, and polarized our politics has become.

Using the 2000 Presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore as the key example, with many across our Republic then seemingly stuck between two candidates all liked in their own ways, both reflect on why our politics has changed to produce figures like Newsom and DeSantis, polarizing figures seen as slick car salesman by those opposite of them, but also how ways we could possibly return to that previous era, including implementing Final Five, a system that encourages citizen legislators, removes the need for divisive primaries, and incentivizes focusing on the big issues at play - a measure that President John Pudner recently testified in favor of in the Wisconsin State Senate.

To learn more about TBOR Action's efforts on topics including election integrity, please click here.

The following transcript from this interview is presented in its entirety with minor edits:


Newsom, slick, Desantis, Biden, Ralph Nader, factor, Bush, Gore, contentiousness


TBORA President John Pudner and Stevie Jay


Stevie Jay  00:00

He is the President of Take Back Our Republic Action, a Bush 2000 aide, and the only person in US history to run a campaign defeating a Majority Leader in a primary., our friend in Milwaukee, John Pudner. You know, I got a call from the great Paul Lewis, who was an Iranian hostage who put George W. Bush on the phone with me in 1988, John, he was campaigning for H.W, and he got off the phone, asked how'd it go, and he simulated a slow pitch, and said, "softball, softball." Anyway, good to have you back! Alright, I tried to watch for a few minutes, but the debate felt like I was watching a freshman at the high school to see how good they're gonna get. This was an undercard thing and I don't know quite... I guess it was interesting, maybe they're future guys, but I don't think they're going to be in play this year, are they?


John Pudner  00:59

I don't think so, and it's interesting, because the other person said something similar to what you just said, who was Donald Trump. He said that he's gonna watch it and best of luck in 2028 to both of them. I think it was a decent night for DeSantis, he got it a couple of good lines, talking about Newsom's father-in-law moving to Flordia because the policies are so much better, which you know, is a cute opening, and then, at the end, just the defecations happening in the streets in San Francisco, which was a nice visual image. He had some good moments, and I think played his strengths as a governor, but again, I don't know that it's significant, but it was a decent night for him.


Stevie Jay  01:41

I'm not a fan of Gavin Newsom, however, trying to just look at the thing, and see two guys, I think he's pretty slick at talking. But, to me, the expressions he has, and he must have really high faluting consultants, he looked smug.


John Pudner  01:55

Yes, I think you said the two key words - smug and slick. I noticed that the California GOP, which had a really good year last congressional, despite everything else, picked up seats and all, described it as a slick car salesman right after the debate. I don't think anyone could argue he doesn't argue. I think he didn't have a lot of good facts on the side last night in light of, you know, where the Biden administration has been, but he can make a case. Just a little slick, California guy, so you're already kind of viewed as sort of the rich, liberal state governor, and I think that's where DeSantis did score some points showing that he cares about the average working people, you know, and that's not who you're focused on.


Stevie Jay  02:46

John, do you think it's still coming down to Joe Biden and Donald Trump in 2024? I mean, is that kind of inevitable, or is there gonna be some surprises along the way?


John Pudner  02:56

I wouldn't quite say inevitable, it's certainly heading that way, they both have issues to deal with. As unfair as most of us think a lot of these prosecutions are, those are issues, and those are draining. Obviously, Biden's health, whatever he wants to say about it, is an issue. I think it's a positioning now for if there is some reason one of those two cannot do it, and everyone's kind of playing  for second place just in case. Dean Phillips, who announced, is a Congressman out of Minnesota on the Democrat side, he's campaigning in New Hampshire, and I think it's more DeSantis trying to hold off Haley, the consensus guy saying is the one surging, and so this is a battle for second place in case, and if not, it could be a battle for 2028, so those are the two things you're planning for.


Stevie Jay  03:46

Robert Kennedy, Jr. Any factor at all next year?


John Pudner  03:50

He's definitely a factor just because he will pull some votes. There have been some contradictory polls on who those votes come from more because the guy actually is quite liberal. I tell some conservative friends, who love him because he's strongly anti-vaccine, but outside of that, he really is pretty liberal, so the question becomes if he just pulling some Trump votes from people who feel strongly about making their own vaccination decisions? That might hurt Trump, but some of the other issues could pull them away from Biden, so definitely a factor, not going to be the next president, but a factor in who will be.


Stevie Jay  04:26

How about Cornel West? Could he get one or two percent?


John Pudner  04:30

Yeah and he could have gotten more. The Democrats seem to work these things much more effectively than Republicans. I mean, the Democrats tend to get other liberals off the ballot, or at least marginalize, whereas conservatives really don't, that's an issue we have, so thats why I like this final five idea because they always make sure they're drawing a few percent away from the conservative, and rarely are we effective in getting a few percent away from the Democrats with some other liberal candidates. He certainly could have gotten more if he were really going all out, like it looked like he was several months ago.


Stevie Jay  05:07

Nothing like the guy in 2000...just slipped my head...Ralph Nader. I mean, that was it, Al Gore wins without Ralph Nader in the race, right?


John Pudner  05:22

Well, I've never admit that because I worked on a campaign on the other side, but he was helpful. You know, Nader did actually keep himself out of the states where it looked like he might cost Gore votes, so when you look state by state, it's a little less obvious than if you look at the national product. That was when the third party spoilers could help the conservative, but now they almost always help the liberals, but that would be the counter example, but you almost have to go back 24 years to when that was where the world was.


Stevie Jay  05:57

Joe Manchin? I mean, will he kind of fade away now at this point? I mean, he was pretty darn key for packing the court and filibuster, wasn't he?


John Pudner  06:06

Absolutely, and of course, it's always these arguments. Republicans, on the one hand, can say thank goodness, we have Manchin, but on the other hand, he is representing Trump's number two state, probably want someone actually in your caucus from that state, but yeah, definitely a factor. But, obviously, it takes away the options on getting anything done if the Republicans don't get the 51, which I think they will, the map is so much better next year than it was last year, but boy, there's no one saving us if they don't get it 50/50.


Stevie Jay  06:43

Last this the age of contentiousness? Can we, somehow, climb over, and have a shining city on the hill? Ronald Reagan made us feel pretty good!


John Pudner  06:56

I almost, again, have to go back to 2000, but it totally closed that campaign. Most Americans liked both candidates, like W and they like Gore, and just think of that now, I mean, it's preposterous. Contentiousness makes for a lesser of two evils and not a whole lot of thrill for a lot of people.


Stevie Jay  07:22

Maybe it started with the Clinton impeachment? Maybe the whole thing started, "You got my guy, I'm getting your guy. You got my guy", I mean, what does that end? John, how can people connect?


John Pudner  07:34

it's just We go out and do events once we find a few people gathered and start building chapters, would love to have anyone.


Stevie Jay  07:46

You're a voice of reason, and I know how much you miss Washington DC.


John Pudner  07:53

Always lived at least 40 minutes outside.


Stevie Jay  07:56

There's a little circle in your car, "I can't go inside this circle more than six hours at a time, that's it." I appreciate you. Thanks so much.


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