Fox News host Sean Hannity is on a media blitz promoting his show’s somewhat puzzling Thursday night debate between Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis, and surprisingly, Hannity keeps talking about how much he and Newsom “hit it off.”

It does not make a ton of sense that California Governor Gavin Newsom will be debating Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at an event hosted by Sean Hannity, but that is happening this week. (DeSantis vs. Newsom: The Great Red vs. Blue State Debate, Thursday November 30, 6 p.m.PT, Fox News). We suppose it helps Newsom burnish his 2028 credentials, DeSantis can probably use any publicity he can get these days, and for Hannity, it fills a weeknight slot. But honestly, this is a ratings stunt that seems not likely to pull high ratings.

And there has been an odd little connection going between Newsom and Hannity. Newsom did an interview on Hannity’s show in June, and has been the Democrats’ post-GOP debate spin doctor at Fox News debates. Politico reported last week that Newsom has been buying ads that run during Hannity’s show, so there is clearly some degree of working relationship here. And now SFGate notes a very curious trend that Hannity has been speaking in conspicuously complimentary terms about Newsom, twice using the phrase that the two “hit it off” in interviews in recent days.  

First came a Sunday Los Angeles Times article previewing the debate, with Hannity laying praise on Newsom pretty thickly. “From the first time we met we just hit it off and there was a certain relationship that developed that was like, ‘Oh, come on, you don’t believe all that,’” Hannity told the Times. “It was always friendly and never contentious. You can say anything to him. You can have fun with him.”

In the same interview, Hannity added, “I warn conservatives and Republicans, you’d better pay attention to this guy.”

Then came a Monday Politico piece on the debate, wherein Hannity recalled Newsom’s visits to Fox News headquarters during that brief period during 2006 when Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom was both married to Gavin and co-host of Fox News’ The Lineup. (Guilfoyle, of course, is now engaged to Donald Trump, Jr.)

“I can’t give you a date or a specific memory,” Hannity recalled. “All I do remember is that on a personal level, he’s extraordinarily personable. Just like Governor DeSantis is. We hit it off. We just kind of hit it off. I respect both people at a very high level. I really do.”

This mini-debate between the two governors has been in the works for months, and Politico reported in August that Newsom didn’t want a live audience on hand. And just like that, Hannity agreed to Newsom’s request.

That said, Newsom’s office still relishes in being as nasty as possible toward Ron DeSantis.  Newsom adviser Nathan Click said in that LA Times piece that he was “shocked” when DeSantis accepted the debate offer, adding that “The fact that he finally accepted as his campaign was circling the drain shows just how bad DeSantis needs to distract from his disaster of a candidacy.”

Related: Second Plane of Migrants, Likely Sent By DeSantis, Arrives In Sacramento [SFist]

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