• Gov. Gavin Newsom said he targeted Gov. Ron DeSantis due to how he treated the Special Olympics.
  • Newsom's ad urged Floridians to move to California and attacked DeSantis' administration.
  • Florida's Department of Health had threatened to fine the Games unless it dropped its vaccine mandate.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Friday that he was motivated to launch a July 4 ad encouraging Floridians to move to California after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took aim at the Special Olympics.

"He did something that tipped me very directly, and that was going after the Special Olympics. I had an emotional response to that," Newsom told daily newspaper The Sacramento Bee, which reported the news Saturday.

In early June, the Florida Department of Health told officials for the Special Olympics it would fine their organization $27.5 million if it didn't drop the vaccine mandate for its June event in the Walt Disney World Resort. The Special Olympics agreed to drop the mandate and avoided the fine.

The Health Department's threat had been part of a push by DeSantis to keep vaccine mandates out of Florida, including among private employers and organizations. In response to reports of the threat, Newsom took to Twitter to criticize DeSantis. "Ron DeSantis' values on full display: Bullying. The. Special. Olympics," he tweeted on June 4.

Newsom's July 4 ad also criticized DeSantis for several laws he signed, including a sexual education bill that was dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill by critics and another that allowed for the banning of math textbooks on the basis of combating Critical Race Theory.


DeSantis hit back at Newsom several days after the ad ran, saying California was "hemorrhaging population."

"It's almost hard to drive people out of a place like California given their natural advantages, but yet they're finding a way to do it," he said at a press conference on July 8.


Both DeSantis and Newsom have been floated as potential candidates for their respective parties for the 2024 presidential election, but have refused to confirm a run for the White House.

Newsom denied to The Bee that he might be planning to enter the race, and called the speculation "nonsensical."

When asked by The Bee if he might consider future ads to viewers outside of California, Newsom said: "I'd be lying if I suggested otherwise."

"But that's not to suggest that I have anything specific in mind," he added, per the outlet.

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