Sounding like the military man he is, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis told an enthusiastic crowd of Republicans in Pennsylvania the way to win is to fight.
DeSantis, 42, after graduating from Yale University and Harvard Law School, served as an officer and attorney in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps and currently serves in the Reserves, even while serving as the governor of Florida.
Perhaps drawing on that military background, he advised his fellow Republicans, “The way to win is to fight back and not take it anymore.”
Speaking during the Republican Committee of Allegheny County’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner last night, DeSantis gave no hint about his future plans beyond winning reelection in Florida next fall. But his comments did nothing to stop speculation he will throw his hat into the 2024 Presidential election ring and if he does, he will do so swinging.
DeSantis encouraged Republicans to fight against what he called “the militant left,” the “corporate media,” “Big Tech” and “woke corporations.”
“Show the courage of your convictions. Stand your ground and stand up (for your constituents) and they will walk through fire to support you,” he said.
“Hold the line. Don’t back down.” DeSantis ensured the crowd he would do the same, ending his comments with, “and in the state of Florida, with me as governor, I have only begun to fight.”
During his half-hour speech, DeSantis discussed how he has fought for his state — against “pajama boys in Silicon Valley” trying to suppress conservative voices on social media, against those working to defund the police and those teaching critical race theory in schools.
He spoke about his leadership in bucking CDC recommendations and reopening Florida from COVID restrictions much earlier than most other states.
“All I can say to any state that has not followed suit: Open your state, open your schools, end these mask mandates, let people live and thrive,” DeSantis advised.
“Your job as a leader is to make decisions,” DeSantis said. “You can’t subcontract out leadership to health bureaucrats. (In Florida) We chose freedom over Fauci-ism.”
His harshest criticism was for the “evil” and dishonest “corporate media.”
“They (the media) are trying to divide our country and we gotta call them out on that. So what I would say to Republicans? Don’t seek approval from these people,” he said. “They don’t like you. They will smear you. They will attack you. The way to win is to fight back and not take it anymore. The truth always prevails. People understand. People see through these narratives. Don’t let these people (the media) set the agenda for our party anymore.”
DeSantis’ enthusiastic welcome from Republicans in the key swing state of Pennsylvania seems to demonstrate the strength of his clout in national politics. According to political experts, among the party’s conservative base, DeSantis has emerged as an heir apparent to former President Donald Trump. At this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference’s Trump easily won its unscientific straw poll for the 2024 presidential nomination, but a second poll question, which excluded Trump, showed DeSantis with 43 percent of the support, far ahead of other White House potential contenders.
More recently, a Politico/Morning Consult poll of the 2024 GOP primary race released this week, found Desantis in third behind Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence.
However, looming before any potential Presidential run is the gubernatorial race in Florida this fall.