NewsNation Debate Stumbles Out of the Gate, Mess With DeSantis Mic/Camera

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NewsNation was the new kid on the block in the television news space, and Wednesday was their first go at hosting a presidential debate. The moderators were NewNation’s Elizabeth Vargas, The Washington Free Beacon editor-in-chief Eliana Johnson, and Sirius XM podcaster Megyn Kelly. While NewsNation claimed not to have an agenda, it was hard to see it as the first question and a series of audio/visual mishaps all seemed to go against one of the Republican candidates in particular.

Unfortunately, things didn’t start well as Kelly kicked off the debate with a long-winded fastball at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pressing him to get out of the race (Click “expand”):

Having said that, Mr. Trump is nearly 50 points ahead of all of you in the national polls. 29 points ahead in Iowa where the GOP caucuses are less than six weeks away. And so, as Republicans get ready to vote on whether any of you might be preferable to Mr. Trump, we begin with the question of electability.

Governor DeSantis, your campaign and its super PAC have spent the most money, had the most high net worth donors, and had a wave of momentum coming into this race after your big re-election win in Florida. You were seen by many as the candidate most likely to consolidate the non-Trump field. But here we are, a month out from the first real votes, and you haven’t managed to do it. In fact, Nikki Haley is beating you in New Hampshire and South Carolina now and closing in on you in Iowa. Not to mention Trump, who is not only dominating in the early stage but is beating you in Florida by over 30 points.

Is it fair to say as Senator Tim Scott did when he dropped out that voters are telling you, “not no, but not now?”

When DeSantis went to answer the question, the NewsNation control room had apparently messed with his microphone and had him sounding like a colony of bees in a vacuum cleaner. Some may argue that it was just an accident since he was the first to speak. But that issue should have been worked out in a pre-debate walkthrough when they hooked up the candidates and adjusted their audio levels.

There was another snafu almost 10 minutes later where, as DeSantis was going after former Ambassador Nikki Haley and Black Rock, the camera started shaking wildly (both incidents are included in the video accompanying this piece). DeSantis had already spoken and had not moved, so camera adjustments shouldn’t have been necessary. Again, that’s usually worked out in walkthroughs.

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Those were the only noticeable audio/visual issues during the debate.

But there were good questions! Johnson’s economic questions kept the focus on American families struggling to thrive under Bidenomics:

Let’s talk about the economy. Ambassador Haley, homeownership has always been a part of the American dream, but it’s increasingly out of reach for younger Americans. This year, mortgage rates reached 30-year highs. Home prices have risen $190,000 over the past decade. Is this a free market at work or should the federal government do something to make homes more affordable?

(…)

Governor DeSantis, the latest NewsNation Decision Desk poll found that inflation tops the worries of American voters. 61 percent say they are very concerned and the working class is hardest hit. Economists say this is fueled by a glut of federal spending. The Biden administration has added $6 trillion to the national debt so far. But President Trump wasn’t exactly a penny pincher. His administration added $7.8 trillion. Do Republicans including President Trump share the blame for inflation? And what concrete steps would a President DeSantis take to help Americans make ends meet?

They also featured video questions from Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Many Republicans are concerned about the legitimacy of elections. A federal judge just ruled that Pennsylvania must count on dated mail-in ballots. And unlike Alabama, many states don’t require any identification to vote,” he prefaced. “What should states do now to increase election integrity and voter confidence for the 2024 elections?”

Now that NewsNation had their first debate under their belt, was the Republican National Committee impressed enough to agree to give them a crack at a general election debate? We’ll have to see.

The transcript is below. Click “expand” to read:

NewsNation’s 2024 Republican Presidential Primary Debate
December 6, 2023
8:02:49 p.m. Eastern

MEGYN KELLY: On stage tonight, four candidates, all vying to become their party’s nominee. And given the state of affairs in our political system right now, one of you might very well do it. Even many Democrats now admit that President Biden is a weak candidate. Just as many Republicans acknowledge former President Donald Trump’s multiple legal troubles could imperil his quest for a second term. All of which means, one you could wind up the leader of the free world.

Having said that, Mr. Trump is nearly 50 points ahead of all of you in the national polls. 29 points ahead in Iowa where the GOP caucuses are less than six weeks away. And so, as Republicans get ready to vote on whether any of you might be preferable to Mr. Trump, we begin with the question of electability.

Governor DeSantis, your campaign and its super PAC have spent the most money, had the most high net worth donors, and had a wave of momentum coming into this race after your big re-election win in Florida. You were seen by many as the candidate most likely to consolidate the non-Trump field. But here we are, a month out from the first real votes, and you haven’t managed to do it. In fact, Nikki Haley is beating you in New Hampshire and South Carolina now and closing in on you in Iowa. Not to mention Trump, who is not only dominating in the early stage, but is beating you in Florida by over 30 points.

Is it fair to say as senator Tim Scott did when he dropped out that voters are telling you, “not no, but not now?”

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): So, we have a great idea in America that the voters actually make these decisions, not pendants or pollsters. I’m sick of hearing about these polls, ‘cause I remember those polls in November of 2022. They said there was going to be a big red wave. It was going to be monumental. And that crashed and burned.

(…)

8:47:02 p.m. Eastern

ELIANA JOHNSON: Let’s talk about the economy. Ambassador Haley, homeownership has always been a part of the American dream, but it’s increasingly out of reach for younger Americans. This year, mortgage rates reached 30-year highs. Home prices have risen $190,000 over the past decade.Is this a free market at work or should the federal government do something to make homes more affordable?

(…)

8:49:12 p.m. Eastern

JOHNSON: Governor DeSantis, the latest NewsNation Decision Desk poll found that inflation tops the worries of American voters. 61 percent say they are very concerned and the working class is hardest hit. Economists say this is fueled by a glut of federal spending. The Biden administration has added $6 trillion to the national debt so far. But President Trump wasn’t exactly a penny pincher. His administration added $7.8 trillion.

Do Republicans including President Trump share the blame for inflation? And what concrete steps would a President DeSantis take to help Americans make ends meet?

(…)

9:24:33 p.m. Eastern

TOM FITTON (Judicial Watch, president): Many Republicans are concerned about the legitimacy of elections. A federal judge just ruled that Pennsylvania must count on dated mail-in ballots. And unlike Alabama, many states don’t require any identification to vote.

What should states do now to increase election integrity and voter confidence for the 2024 elections?

(…)

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