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Will Newsom-DeSantis Debate Keep Ambitions Alive?: WAAV (Wilmington, NC) Fox News Interview

President John Pudner continued his radio tour across our Republic 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, visiting Wilmington, North Carolina, a state which will be watched closely in 2024 both for the presidential and it's own gubernatorial race with Lt. Gov Mark Robinson.

More notably, however, both he and host Nick Craig discussed how, if at all, this debate could be used to save the potential futures of both figures. On the one hand, Governor DeSantis continues to trail former President Donald Trump in polling nationwide and in the all-important Iowa caucuses, where he is currently projected to lose by over 35 percent per recent CBS News polling and is trailing in third place in New Hampshire behind former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. On the other, Governor Newsom's approval rating is below disapproval for the first time in his tenure according to recent University of California-Berkeley polling as the state faces a record $68 billion budget deficit and image problems. Could this debate have helped either to keep their ambitions alive? Only time will tell...

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:


DeSantis, Newsom, Biden, debate, candidates, Iowa caucus, showing, significant.


TBORA President John Pudner and Nick Craig.


Nick Craig  00:00

To give us some analysis and reaction to last night's festivities, I'd like to welcome to our program this morning, the President of Take Back Our Republic Action and a Bush 2000 aide, John Pudner on our airwaves this morning. John, give us the recap. What do you think of last night?


John Pudner  00:18

Well, I do think DeSantis had a good night. I think they both missed a couple opportunities, but whenever we're prepping candidates for debate, you want the memorable moment. I think he got in the father-in-law comment at the beginning that was a nice little ringer up front. I thought Newsom missed his chance. I think you could have at least come back, mitigate it a little, say that a lot of families fight, you know, something to come back, but he just kind of stood there like a deer in headlights on that one when he is usually pretty smooth and slick. And then, at the end, to put up the chart of the human feces in San Francisco, noting that this is one of your major cities, the city you were in before you're a governor, and things are falling apart? Yeah, I think DeSantis conveyed that pretty well, even more than the stats, sometimes that one graphic or picture can be as important as the stats that people try to follow in these debates.


Nick Craig  01:14

One of the things that's interesting, and I don't think necessarily everybody agrees with this, but when you look at somebody like Gavin Newsom, he, generally, seems like he could be a likable individual. He's a smart political talker, he's a slick guy, he's got the politician look on him. To me, last night, he came off very arrogant and almost mean, and I'm not really sure why he took that approach. I think Gavin Newsom can be a likable character but he didn't seem to convey that at all last night.


John Pudner  01:46

I agree. I thought maybe he was seeing this as an opportunity to reach out knowing the audience would be a bit more conservative, but he went the other way, I mean, he basically doubled down and said conservatives are bad in so many words, and he kept that up throughout the debate. That surprised me, because, of course, you always wonder why did each candidate take this debate, and it's obvious for DeSantis...there could be another matchup for president now or in four years and, you know, this is an example of me being your nominee. That's obvious, but for Newsom, I thought maybe there was some outreach, or maybe, because he is representing a very blue state, maybe just show he had some appeal or some friendliness, but he was really just hitting conservatives as being bad. I think you're right, I think that's where sort of the slick car salesman analogy is coming out. It seemed like he's selling something to us that we don't want.


Nick Craig  02:43

That's a great point and I'm glad you brought that up. Why did both of these candidates do this? I will give Gavin Newsom credit. I mean, talk about going behind enemy lines, John, you're on the Fox News Channel, Sean Hannity is your moderator, it's very clear where he falls on the political spectrum, he has been doing it for almost 30 years now. I'll give Gavin Newsom credit for showing up. Why do you think he did show up if that was the approach he was going to take? I mean, he opened up within the first minute of the debate saying that conservatives are trying to rollback the United States to the pre-1960s, which is completely inaccurate. Why did he do it?


John Pudner  03:17

It just seemed apparent that he was applying for president in four years or something, and going in, I didn't know where he's going, but I think he realized, if he wants to be president, whether it's now in a  shadow campaign or four years from now, I need to win my base. I'm sure for him, he thought that some Democrats were gonna tune in to this, they're going to be very curious why I'm on, and I want to show him I can stand up and be the tough guy, because he has to go through a primary first before he goes to the general like anyone else. That was my gut coming out of it that he just said, "My audience is the liberals who are watching Fox News one of the few times their life, lets try to impress them that I'm tough."


Nick Craig  03:58

John Pudner is our guest this morning, we're recapping last night's "Red vs. Blue" debate. When you look at the differences between these two, one of the things that was taken away, and Gavin Newsom said it a dozen times last night, he is not running for president in 2024. You think that's accurate or do you think he slips in there at the DNC convention in Chicago?


John Pudner  04:21

Well, I think he doth protest too much. There's more and more pressure on the left to get Biden out. I mean, I think Cenk Unger was the latest liberal to write Biden to not run, you're the only one who can lose type thing, so everyone's gotta be wondering, I mean, you've got a candidate who is 81, even if there were none of these other issues. Everyone has to be wondering who is going to be there, and yeah, I think he doth protest too much. He wants to be the one that's there, but now, he's got this Dean Phillips Congressman out of Minnesota who's actually out running, and I think that put a little pressure on him that there's someone else who's trying to be the person waiting there if it's not Biden, for any reason, and I've got to try to make sure I'm number two in line here.


Nick Craig  05:11

So, let's talk about this going forward. We've seen three presidential debates thus far. I thought DeSantis hasn't necessarily performed well in the debates with all the candidates. It's not that he's been bad, It's just he hasn't really stood out, or stepped up, in any regards to that. Does last night's back and forth with the other side move the needle at all on DeSantis? We're about six weeks away from the start of the Iowa caucuses. Does he get any bump from this and is it significant enough to keep him in the race?


John Pudner  05:43

I don't know if it's significant enough. I do think it was good, and you pointed to the best thing of the night for him, is he showed that he liked hitting Democrats and their bad philosophy and he doesn't really like hitting other Republicans. We saw that he could go after someone, and he wants to go after the bad guys, if you're a conservative, he is willing to go after the liberals, but he hasn't looked that good at going after people during the Republican debate, but maybe saving it for the Democrats. I could see that as being his positive narrative. You used the word significant, I don't know if it's significant, but I do think that was a positive. He looked better after that than he did after the internal GOP debates.


Nick Craig  06:27

So maybe we don't use the word significant. I guess my second question to you would be, then, is it enough to keep him in the race? I mean, you look at the Iowa Real Clear Politics average, DeSantis is struggling to break 15% in the Iowa caucus as it is right now. At some point, you're either in the race or you're out of the race, do you think this moves it at all and just how much longer does he stay in?


John Pudner  06:52

Yeah, I mean, he's got to have a good showing in Iowa. That big evangelical base there has been a little less enamored with Trump than other conservatives. I mean, if there were ever a place you think for the opportunity...he's got to have a big showing in Iowa, because obviously, South Carolina, no one, I don't think, expects him to have a big showing with Nicki being right there. New Hampshire, you got this confusion if people want to vote for Christie. That's got to be the state of these first three that he has to break through in. It's tough, but the caucus system is different, isn't quite as easy to poll as a primary, so maybe there's more there. I wouldn't say it's do or die, nut I think I think you're hit the right point, he's got to have a real good showing there.


Nick Craig  07:47

Tell us about the Take Back Our Republic Action. What do you guys do?


John Pudner  07:50

So, the whole thing is, we got in on election rules back in 2014, before things got popular with it, but we've got to talk about the way elections are run, and funded, and rules, and there has to be a group on the right talking about the rules of elections, because there were 100 nonprofits on the left when we formed. We need fair elections and we need to be able to fight on the rules before the elections take place to have a fair chance to win.


Nick Craig  08:25

Where do folks find more information about what you guys are doing?


John Pudner  08:27, so it's just the three words. If you sign up, we've done events in North Carolina, we'll do a sign-up, and let us know, and we'll be there and see what we're all about.


Nick Craig  08:41

John Pudner, our guest this morning. John, thank you so much for the time, appreciate the insight.


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