- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis delivered a speech at the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) annual gathering, promoting the Florida model as the basis for his national campaign for president.
- DeSantis highlighted Florida’s economic growth, low unemployment rates, and education strides, attributing them to his administration’s response to COVID-19, which differed from many other states’ restrictive measures.
- During his speech, DeSantis criticized “leftist politicians,” including President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, while defending Florida’s African American history standards and dismissing allegations of book banning.
- He did not acknowledge the recent spate of bad news and other challenges encountered in his presidential campaign.
In Orlando on Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis delivered a speech focused on familiar conservative themes during an annual gathering of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
The forum marked an opportunity to make his case for president in front of a gathering of conservative lawmakers from across the country. DeSantis noted Florida’s recent achievements, including a reduction in state debt and continued economic growth in contrast with ongoing national economic struggles. DeSantis also contended that the state provided a model for countering national decline.
In his remarks, DeSantis portrayed the country as in a state of “economic, military, and cultural decline.” He particularly criticized states governed by “leftist politicians,” attributing surges in crime and deteriorating education systems to their policies.
However, he highlighted Florida as a notable exception to this trend, boasting of the state’s top ranking for economic growth, robust business formation, low unemployment rates, and significant strides in education. DeSantis linked these successes to his administration’s response to COVID-19, which diverged from many states’ restrictive measures.
“We fought for the people of this state when nobody else was willing to do it,” DeSantis said, attributing his substantial 1.5 million vote reelection margin to this approach. He also celebrated Florida’s strong economic performance, noting a large budget surplus, a AAA credit rating, and the repayment of nearly 25% of the state’s total debt since he took office in 2019.
DeSantis used the occasion to criticize President Joe Biden on a number of fronts, including some personal jabs at the president’s son, Hunter Biden. He also ripped Vice President Kamala Harris for her critique of Florida’s new African American history standards, which some say suggest Blacks benefited from slavery. DeSantis defended the standards, calling Harris’s claims a “hoax.”
He also dismissed allegations of his administration banning books from schools as another hoax, arguing that controversial books remain available through other sources. His administration and supporters have labeled some books, particularly those addressing LGBTQ+ topics and race relations, as “pornographic.”
DeSantis blamed “government-induced problems” like inflation on federal COVID relief spending and accused the Federal Reserve of economic manipulation. However, he did not address the current state of his presidential campaign, including masss, layoffs amid a fundraising slump, and a recent vehicle collision.
The governor has been actively crisscrossing the country in recent months, fundraising and campaigning for the presidency. His speech Wednesday was part of his participation in the annual conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization known for producing model legislation for individual state legislatures.