Governor DeSantis rallies Florida GOP, targets President Biden
As he increasingly draws attention as a potential 2024 presidential candidate, Governor Ron DeSantis focused heavily on President Joe Biden on Saturday night while rallying Republicans for this year’s election. .
Twice in the first minute after taking the stage for a speech at a dinner party at the Florida Republican Party’s Sunshine Summit, DeSantis threw out the name ‘Brandon’, a derogatory reference to Biden, as he contrasted the recovery of Florida from the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic to current federal economic policies.
“When you look at what we did in Florida, we stood up to the media, we stood up to people like (federal infectious disease expert Anthony) Fauci, and we stood up to Brandon himself to keep Florida free. “, DeSantis said to the applause of a packed ballroom at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Broward County.
DeSantis also drew cheers when he compared Biden to a deer “stumbling” in headlights unable to use a teleprompter, then facetiously wished the president luck after testing positive for COVID-19.
“We should all send our best wishes to President Joe Biden for a speedy recovery from his fight against COVID,” DeSantis told the crowd. “And I hope the United States recovers quickly from their fight against Joe Biden.”
DeSantis also drew another big reaction from the crowd when he opened up about his clash with the Walt Disney Co.
DeSantis has made the entertainment giant a centerpiece in his fight against “woke” ideology, pushing through legislation this spring to dissolve a special tax district that benefits Walt Disney Co.
The move came after Disney opposed a controversial new law that restricts teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools — a move critics have dubbed the “don’t say gay” law.
“Big California-based companies don’t run the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, who spoke before the governor, did not mention Democratic gubernatorial candidates Charlie Crist or Nikki Fried, who trail the incumbent GOP in the polls. Nor did they mention California Governor Gavin Newsom, who recently targeted Florida in an ad campaign, or Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, who last week in Tampa described DeSantis as someone ” trying to pass off his secret racism, homophobia and misogyny as a more reasonable form of Trump Republicanism.
Nunez achieved a record state budget surplus, tax cuts, schools reopening earlier than other states during the pandemic, and DeSantis’ appointments of conservative Florida Supreme Court justices.
Nunez also pointed out that the GOP has overtaken Democrats in recent months for the first time in registered voters, “turning Florida red faster than you can say ‘Thank you Brandon’.”
The pep talks also touched on electing Republicans to school boards and to Congress, where Democrats hold a majority.
“In Florida, we don’t just talk, we do. We get things done. We are not afraid to use our authority to advance the public interest and protect people’s freedoms,” DeSantis said. “And so, if and when Republicans win a majority in the (US) House or (US) Senate, we need to see action to hold Biden and his minions accountable for our open border and his dereliction of duty.”
The speeches concluded a day that included a series of debates between GOP primary candidates in Congressional Districts 4, 7, 13 and 15.
Organizers limited the number of media organizations with access to the summit. DeSantis told the crowd that Republican leaders were not going to allow “mainstream media to be involved in our primaries.”
“Left-wing media are asking questions of our candidates,” DeSantis said. “I want these debates to be moderated by people who actually believe in conservative principles.”
One of the most notable moments of debate came when Congressional District 4 candidate Erick Aguilar was asked about reports that he tricked people into contributing money to his campaign for the Northeast Florida headquarters. He called the report a “defamation” of the establishment targeting “MAGA” contestants like him and “fake news”.
Aguilar’s response was one of the few that drew mockery from an audience of around 400 people at midday. State Sen. Aaron Bean, a Republican from Fernandina Beach who is running against Aguilar for the congressional seat, said he was “shocked” that Aguilar showed up for the debate.
According to Politico, Aguilar used WinRed, a popular Republican campaign platform, to solicit donations. The demands, distributed nationally, did not mention Aguilar or other candidates in the congressional race, instead suggesting the money would go to DeSantis, former President Donald Trump or U.S. Representative Jim Jordan, R- Ohio, Politico reported.
Bean said Aguilar blamed “everyone but himself” and should be seen as an “identity thief who stole from old people.”
Most of the questions from debate panelists allowed the candidates to dive into Biden’s policies involving the economy, foreign policy, immigration and Fauci, who has been a Republican target because of his views on issues of COVID-19.
Candidates were also asked for their thoughts on the US Department of Education; aid to Ukraine; the next speaker in the US House if Republicans regain control of the House; and the need for states or the federal government to address abortion in the wake of last month’s US Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.
DeSantis asked the candidates for their views on congressional term limits and who is the “top” active justice on the US Supreme Court. All candidates chose Republican candidates.
Radio show and Fox News host Mark Levin, who interviewed the candidates in two of the debates, interviewed District 7 candidate Anthony Sabatini, a member of the State House from Howey-in-the-Hills who has maintained its position that the United States should not intervene financially or militarily in the Russian-Ukrainian war.
“Our waking beliefs are destroying this country from within,” said Sabatini, who has often clashed with Republican leaders in the State House. “We can’t afford, we have to bring humility back into foreign policy. We can’t get involved in all the affairs of the world while our own country is going to hell.
Levin responded by calling Sabatini’s foreign policy “the most radical” he had ever heard.