Jamaal Bowman debates Byron Donalds over 2024 election on Capitol steps

Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) and Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) engaged in a friendly back-and-forth outside the Capitol Building on Wednesday over how they think their preferred presidential candidates will fare in the 2024 election.

Donalds boasted that two of the GOP’s top candidates hail from the Sunshine State, while Bowman argued that President Biden – or even Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer – would “ kill both of them” in an electoral battle.  

“To the gentleman from New York, man. Listen, it’s cool to have two people in my state that could be president. I don’t know about New York,” Donalds told Bowman, initiating the debate in front of a gaggle of reporters on the Capitol steps. 

“Who in your state could be president? Who?” Bowman incredulously asked.

“Bulls–t. Come on now,” Donalds replied. 

“DeSantis? DeSantis, doesn’t have a shot,” Bowman argued.

“There’s no way he can be president,” Bowman added.

Reps. Byron Donalds and Jamaal Bowman
Reps. Byron Donalds and Jamaal Bowman held a spirited but friendly debate on 2024 presidential candidates on the Capitol steps Wednesday.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Donalds, a former member of the Florida legislature, disagreed with his House colleague’s assessment of Gov. Ron DeSantis and pushed back. 

“My former colleagues in the legislature, Republican and Democrat, when all that stuff was coming up last year, I called them. I said, tell me what’s happening. They were like, It’s really not that, but people are trying to raise a fuss. I’ve had the conversations. It’s not true,” Donalds said.

Bowman then switched gears, shifting the topic of the conversation voting rights for ex-convicts. 

“Why can’t those who have been incarcerated, who are released, who have done their time, why can’t they be re-enfranchised and be allowed to vote?”

“They are in our state,” Donalds insisted.

“No, they are not man!” Bowman replied.

“Jamaal, I voted for the bill. I was there when they drafted it,” Donalds replied.

After Bowman laughed off Donalds answer, he demanded to know what other presidential candidate from Florida Donalds was referring to. 

“Who’s the second guy?” the Bronx lawmaker asked.

“Oh come on now. You already know that’s Trump and Ron,” Donalds informed him, referring to former President Donald Trump. 

“Trump and Ron?” a shocked Bowman said, adding,  “So, Trump claims Florida now. He don’t claim New York?” Bowman added.

“He been claiming Florida,” Donalds responded.

Donald Trump
Donalds made the case for former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis beating President Joe Biden in 2024.

“Bye Felicia, bye Felicia!” joked Bowman.

“That’s what he said to Kathy. He told Kathy Hochul. He said, ‘I got to go,’” Donalds joked back, referring to New York’s Democratic governor. 

“Both those dudes gonna get crushed,” Bowman proclaimed.

“Stop. By who? The man in 1600?” Donalds fired back.

“Gretchen Whitmer – if she wanted to jump in – she would kill both of them. Secondly, Biden will kill both of them by them. Biden passed three bipartisan pieces of legislation,” Bowman argued.

“You know what, that’s like saying Josh Allen is better than Patrick Mahomes. Come on now. Tell that to somebody else,” replied Donalds, alluding to the talented NFL quarterbacks, who only one of whom, Mahomes, has won a Super Bowl. 

Ron DeSantis
Bowman argued that Biden would “wipe the floor with DeSantis” in 2024.

Bowman then rattled off a list of what he believes are the 80-year-old president’s first-term accomplishments after claiming that “Biden will wipe the floor with DeSantis.”

“CHIPS Act, infrastructure bill, Safer Communities Act, historic investment in climate, $35 insulin,” Bowman name-dropped, despite voting against the bipartisan infrastructure bill himself. 

Undeterred, Donalds responded with a list of Biden negatives: “High inflation, overrun southern border, fentanyl on everybody’s streets. I can do the same thing.”

The spirited and courteous debate ended when Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) walked up behind his two colleagues and embraced them. 

“Here’s some handsome Black men!” Carson said as Donalds and Bowman erupted in laughter.