DeSantis has Great Debate Performance, but Will it be Enough to Outlast Trump?

DeSantis has Great Debate Performance, but Will it be Enough to Outlast Trump?

Javier Manjarres
Javier Manjarres
September 28, 2023

About a month after delivering a “serviceable” presidential debate performance in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis invoked former President Ronald Reagan and delivered a much anticipated and needed showing at the second Republican presidential campaign in Simi Valley, California.

Gov. DeSantis appeared calm, and confident and answered the questions posed to him with substance and conviction, without expressing any cringe-worthy and forced smiles as was the case in the first debate.

DeSantis went after Trump, as expected.

“You know who else is missing in action? Donald Trump. He should be on the stage tonight,” said DeSantis. “He owes it to you to defend his record.”

Prior to the debate, California Governor Gavin Newsom told The Floridian that he didn’t think DeSantis could have a good debate performance.

All of the candidates had very strong performances, and like DeSantis said, “made some good points,” but  Florida’s governor clearly stood out.

Considering that Spanish-language television network Univision moderated the debate, immigration reform and the border crisis literally took center stage.

The candidates were all on the same page on the issue, and both DeSantis and former Ambassador Nikki Haley reiterated their support to use U.S. military action against the Mexican drug cartels.

“As Commander-in-Chief, I'm going to use the US military to go after the Mexican drug cartels. They are killing our people,” said DeSantis when reiterating his immigration reform policy, if elected president.

Ambassador Haley echoed what DeSantis said about the Mexican drug cartels, but went further and said that she would, “send in our special operations and take out the drug cartels,” because that is,” How we deal with terrorists.”

DeSantis, Chris Christie, Vice President Mike Pence, Haley, and others took jabs at the undisputed frontrunner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, former President Donald Trump.

While the candidates took turns pointing out the alleged missteps and broken promises President Trump has made, it was hard not to take away from the debate that Trump was living rent-free in all of their minds.

The Spin

Before the debate, DeSantis's senior advisor David Polyansky quipped at President Trump, saying that at least DeSantis agreed to attend the debate.

“At least he’s agreed to show up and debate and talk about their different visions. It’s disappointing that the former president doesn’t see it that way. But as Governor DeSantis said and will repeatedly say you have to earn the nomination.," said Polyansky

Visibly absent in the spin room were Trump’s surrogates except for Kari Lake.

Team DeSantis, which included the Never Back Down PAC’s Erin Perrine and Ken Cuccinelli, were all doing back flips and jumping jacks in praising DeSantis’s debate performance.

“The internet stuff is helpful, but it's not how you win a campaign. He’s out there every day talking to voters. You see him talking to voters at gas stations, at churches," sadi Perrine.

When asked how she felt about DeSantis’s debate performance, Perrine expectedly stated that he did “excellent” and didn’t get “caught up in the noise.”

“I thought he was excellent this evening. He stayed focused. He didn’t’ get caught in the riff raff, he didn’t get caught in the noise,” added Perrine. “I think the governor is having the time of his life, he’s having a ton of fun on the road”

He has an answer to every question, because every question they brought up, he has done something in Florida to address,” said DeSantis’ campaign manager James Uthmeier.

Fox News Sean Hannity said that he didn’t believe any of the candidates had a “break out” debate before interviewing them on his “Hannity” show moments after the debate ended.

Gov. Newsom, who took a second stroll through the spin room, said that “the Biden agenda won” the debate.

Interestingly enough, when we asked Newsom who had a better haircut, him or DeSantis, Newsom responded, “he does.”

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Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres is a nationally renowned award-winning political journalist and Publisher of,,, and He enjoys traveling, playing soccer, mixed martial arts, weight-lifting, swimming, and biking. Javier is also a political consultant and has also authored "BROWN PEOPLE," which is a book about Hispanic Politics. Follow on Twitter: @JavManjarres Email him at

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