Highlights from Ron DeSantis and Charlie Crist’s raucous Florida gubernatorial debate

Highlights from Ron DeSantis and Charlie Crist’s raucous Florida gubernatorial debate


Monday night’s debate between Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and Democratic challenger Charlie Crist was a highly contentious and raucous event. Both candidates came prepared with their answers, setting the tone for the lively exchanges that would follow throughout the debate.

Abortion restrictions

DeSantis and Crist were asked about their stance on abortion and when they believe it should become illegal. Crist criticized DeSantis for signing a bill that restricts abortion rights, even in cases of rape or incest. He argued that DeSantis’ position infringes on women’s rights and their freedom to choose. DeSantis defended his stance, stating that he is proud of the 15-week abortion ban he signed into law. He accused Crist of supporting extreme abortion procedures, including late-term abortions. The candidates clashed on this issue, with Crist accusing DeSantis of being inconsistent and opportunistic in his stance on abortion.

The economy

The state of Florida’s economy was a key topic of discussion during the debate. DeSantis highlighted his record as governor, emphasizing his efforts to support the economy and education. He touted the fact that Florida has the largest budget surplus in its history and attributed this success to his decision to keep the state open during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. DeSantis argued that implementing strict restrictions would have negatively impacted the state’s tourism industry. Crist, on the other hand, blamed DeSantis for rising utility rates and the increasing cost of living in Florida. He accused DeSantis of prioritizing corporate interests over the well-being of Floridians.

Hurricane Ian

The candidates also addressed their respective responses to Hurricane Ian, the deadliest storm in Florida in at least 60 years. Crist criticized DeSantis for what he deemed a failure to adequately prepare the state for the hurricane. He accused DeSantis of attending a high school football game instead of focusing on hurricane preparedness. DeSantis defended his actions and highlighted Crist’s own absence during Hurricane Fiona. He accused Crist of being absent and even soliciting campaign contributions from storm victims. The candidates clashed on their leadership and decision-making during times of crisis.


Education policies and curriculum were a major point of contention between DeSantis and Crist. DeSantis argued that parents should have the final say in what is taught in schools, particularly when it comes to topics related to race and LGBTQ issues. He expressed concerns about critical race theory being taught in schools and emphasized the importance of teaching history without fostering hate or division. Crist accused DeSantis of perpetuating culture wars and dividing communities. He argued that a comprehensive and inclusive approach to education is necessary, rejecting what he called a “whitewashed” version of history. The candidates had differing views on how education should be approached in Florida.

COVID closures

The candidates also addressed their respective responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Crist criticized DeSantis for not listening to scientists and experts, accusing him of arrogance. He pointed to the high death toll in the state and suggested that DeSantis’s policies were responsible for the loss of lives. DeSantis defended his approach, stating that he focused on protecting vulnerable populations while keeping businesses open. He argued that his decisions prevented unnecessary economic hardships and highlighted his opposition to mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations in schools. The candidates disagreed on the effectiveness of their responses to the pandemic.

Disney and business policies

The debate also touched on DeSantis’s relationship with Disney and his approach to business policies. Crist criticized DeSantis for his disagreements with Disney over a law banning discussions of sexual orientation and gender in some public school classrooms. He accused DeSantis of being anti-business and claimed that he was the most divisive governor he had ever seen. DeSantis defended his record, highlighting the state’s net immigration and the support he has received from various business groups. He argued that his policies have attracted businesses to Florida and have contributed to the state’s economic growth.

Gender transition for minors

The candidates were asked about their positions on gender confirming procedures and therapies for minors. DeSantis expressed concerns about the use of puberty blockers and major surgeries, such as mastectomies, for transgender children. He argued that these procedures are inappropriate and should not be performed on minors. Crist criticized DeSantis’s position, linking it to his stance on abortion rights. He argued that DeSantis was attempting to infringe on personal healthcare decisions and undermine the expertise of physicians.

Local prosecutor suspended

The suspension of a local prosecutor, Andrew Warren, became a point of contention during the debate. Crist criticized DeSantis for removing Warren from office, accusing the governor of silencing a critic. DeSantis defended his decision, stating that he acted appropriately and would do so again. He argued that Warren had stated he could act outside the law, and his removal was necessary to uphold the rule of law.


The gubernatorial debate between Ron DeSantis and Charlie Crist showcased the stark contrasts between the two candidates. They clashed on numerous issues, including abortion rights, the economy, hurricane response, education, COVID-19 policies, and business regulations. The debate was marked by raucous reactions from the crowd and fierce exchanges between the candidates. With the election drawing closer, the debate provided voters with a clear view of the candidates’ positions and approaches to governance.