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    Gov. Ron DeSantis Flaunts Florida, Blasts California’s Left-Leaning Leaders in Simi Valley Speech

    By Clara Harter

    Though DeSantis is not yet an official GOP presidential candidate, his trip to California offered him an opportunity to rub elbows with Golden State Republican donors and tacitly point out what would set his potential presidency apart from a second term for Donald Trump.

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Southern California on Sunday and delivered a speech that while billed as a book talk, had all the trimmings of a presidential campaign in a state that will play a key role in determining the GOP candidate.

    The majority of the speech, which took place in front of a large and friendly crowd at Simi Valley’s Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, consisted of DeSantis contrasting what he sees as the manifold successes of Florida against the failures of California and liberals writ large.

    The event was ostensibly a celebration for his upcoming book “The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival,” but it also offered DeSantis an opportunity to rub elbows with the Golden State’s Republican donors and tacitly point out what would set a DeSantis presidency apart from a second term for Trump.

    In the hour-long talk DeSantis lambasted the education, COVID, taxation and public safety policies in such deep-blue states as California and New York and pointed to his leadership in Florida as the perfect foil to that of left-leaning governors.

    “I think we’ve gotten it right on all the key issues and I think these liberal states have gotten it wrong,” he said. “I think it all goes back to this woke mind virus that’s infected the left.”

    DeSantis said that most Americans oppose “woke ideology” and have “voted with their feet” in terms of which states’ philosophy they prefer.

    “If you look over the last four years, we’ve witnessed a great American exodus from states governed by leftist politicians imposing leftist ideology and delivering poor results,” he said. “And, you’ve seen massive gains in states like Florida, who are governing according to the tried and true principles that President Reagan held dear.”

    The hour-long speech was met with cheers and applause from attendees at the Reagan Library, part of nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the former president’s conservative principles and legacy.

    “This was a spectacular, top-notch presidential speech, so he has definitely set the stage that he is a contender,” said Ann-Marie Villicana, an executive chairman member of the Reagan Library. “At one point I blurted out loud ‘we need to move to Florida’.”

    Although DeSantis has yet to formally toss his hat in the ring as a presidential candidate, many interpreted Sunday’s speech, and his evening GOP fund-raiser down the freeway in Orange County, as early-stage campaigning.

    Simultaneously, Trump amped up his campaign over the weekend, casting himself Saturday as the only Republican candidate who can build on his White House legacy but shied away from directly critiquing his potential rivals — including DeSantis.

    Trump, giving the headlining address at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, told a cheering crowd that he was engaged in his “final battle” as he tries to return to the White House.

    “We are going to finish what we started,” he said. “We’re going to complete the mission. We’re going to see this battle through to ultimate victory.”

    While CPAC was once a must-stop for candidates mulling Republican presidential runs, DeSantis and other major likely contenders skipped this year’s gathering as the group has increasingly become aligned with Trump. Indeed, it’s the Reagan Library that has become a popular stop for potential GOP contenders, from recently announced candidate Nikki Haley to former Vice President Mike Pence, among others. Trump himself has not spoken there.

    Though DeSantis, seen as Trump’s biggest potential rival, is frequently a subject of name-calling and other attacks in Trump’s social media posts and in interviews, he wasn’t mentioned directly in Trump’s address before conservative activists, who earlier in the day applauded when an old video clip of the Florida governor was shown in a montage.

    He took only a veiled jab at DeSantis, calling out those who have proposed raising the age for Social Security or privatizing Medicare — positions DeSantis has expressed support for in the past, but has since abandoned. “We’re not going to mess with Social Security as Republicans,” DeSantis recently said.

    Trump told the crowd, “If that’s their original thought, that’s what they always come back to.”

    DeSantis, meanwhile, was on the other side of the country for his Reagan Library address and an appearance at a reception and dinner for the Republican Party of Orange County Sunday evening. Tickets for the event ranged from $500 for general admission to $1,500, which includes an autographed copy of the governor’s book and photo opportunities.

    “He knows the red states are not going to be a problem, so I think he’s testing out his message to the to the blue states,” said Anngel Benoun , an executive chairman member of the Reagan Library. “He was trying out several different topics in order to see what got a good response, what got a lukewarm response and what got the standing ovation.”

    DeSantis indeed succeeded in eliciting a standing ovation, not only at the end of his speech, but also in the middle when he spoke about how gender and sexuality is taught in the classroom.

    “They should not be teaching a second-grader that they can choose their gender; that is wrong and that is not going to happen in the state of Florida,” he said, prompting audience members to rise to their feet.

    The governor also denounced teaching critical race theory in schools, called California’s slow return to in-person learning during the pandemic a “disgrace” and said that teachers unions in California have a “pernicious influence” and are pursuing a “partisan agenda.”

    Under DeSantis’s leadership Florida was one of the first states to fully resume in-person schooling in August 2020. In contrast, many California schools remained virtual for the majority of the 2020 to 2021 school year.

    “He focused so much on education, so that also tells me he’s going to be trying to grab back the female vote that Trump couldn’t get,” said Benoun.

    Trump won only 39% of the female vote in 2016 and 44% in 2020. DeSantis, on the other hand, snared 52% of the female vote during his 2022 gubernatorial victory– an achievement he flaunted on Sunday alongside his record-breaking margin of victory.

    “We went from winning by 32,000 votes in 2018 to winning by over 1.5 million votes in 2022, he said. “It was the largest percentage of the vote that any Republican governor candidate received in Florida history.”

    DeSantis also bragged about capturing over 60% of the Hispanic vote, saying he did this because he didn’t pander to particular racial groups, but treated everyone as an individual.

    He did not, however, discuss his polling among Black voters.

    “That could be a big problem for him,” said Benoun. “Because, remember, Trump got the highest percentage of the African American vote of any Republican candidate.”

    In fact, DeSantis did not mention the word Black throughout his entire speech, even though he touched on many race related issues including summer 2020 riots.

    “We saw destructive riots in the summer of 2020 that were aided and abetted by feckless leftist politicians at the local level. We saw businesses trashed we saw billions in damages. We saw dozens of people killed, all without standing up for law and order,” DeSantis said. “We let it be known that would not be tolerated in the Sunshine State.”

    DeSantis also did not mention Trump directly, but did emphasize attributes of his leadership that are different from the former president’s, Benoun pointed out.

    If DeSantis does declare his candidacy, Trump will be a key rival. A recent Berkeley IGS survey of registered Republicans found DeSantis to be leading a field of potential and declared 2024 presidential candidates — trailed closely by Trump.

    Click here to read the full article in the OC Register


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    Billybob
    Billybob
    1 year ago

    Ron DeSantimonious copies Trump, and even had someone go out of state to transfer immigrants to a liberal state, copying Texas Governor Abbot. I guess he doesn’t have any original ideas.

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