Gov. Ron DeSantis sticks to his guns in quiet first GOP debate

by | Aug 24, 2023

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis focused on familiar domestic talking points during the first Republican primary debate on Wednesday, largely avoiding attacks from other candidates.
  • The governor highlighted education policy, attributing the nation’s decline to its deterioration and emphasizing Florida’s school openings during the pandemic.
  • DeSantis also pledged to expand his tough-on-crime stances to a federal level, referencing a pair of Executive Orders he issued over the past 12 months that suspended two State Attorneys whom he accused of neglecting their duties as prosecutors. 

Amidst his continued chase for the pole position in the Republican primary race, Gov. Ron DeSantis leaned on his traditional talking points during the party’s first national debate.

Emerging relatively unscathed, evading attacks from fellow candidates by taking a back seat in most discussions, DeSantis frequently cited stateside policy-based accomplishments, including those pertaining to education — an area he placed much emphasis on throughout his tenure as governor.

“The decline in education is one of the major reasons why our country is in decline,” he said. “In Florida, we stood up for what was right. We had schools open during Covid.”

DeSantis also touched on his efforts to eliminate elements of Critical Race Theory in K-12 schools, the eradication of what he referred to as gender ideology, and made a pledge to enhance civics education in schools should he become President.

“As President, I’m going to lead an effort to increase civic understanding and knowledge of our Constitution. We cannot be graduating students that don’t have any foundation in what it means to be an American,” he said.

During a question on crime and safety, the governor referenced a pair of Executive Orders he issued over the past 12 months that suspended two State Attorneys, Andrew Warren and Monique Worrell, whom he accused of neglecting their duties as prosecutors.

“When we had two of these [State] Attorneys in Florida who were elected with Soros funding who said they wouldn’t do their jobs — I removed them from their post,” DeSantis said. “As President, we are going to go after all of these people because they are hurting the quality of life.”

As the debate moved towards the Ukrainian war, DeSantis asserted his opposition to sending troops to Eastern Europe while contending that Europe must “pull its weight before shifting to the U.S. southern border.

“I’m not going to send troops to Ukraine, but I am going to send them to our southern border,” he said. “We’re going to leave [the cartels] stone-cold dead.”

Notably, DeSantis appeared to veer away from debate prep that leaked instructing him to attack Joe Biden and the media, defend Donald Trump, and engage with fellow candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. When taking the stage, the listed prompts failed to materialize, with the governor seemingly reluctant to claim whether he would support Trump as nominee if he is convicted. Moreover, DeSantis had minimal interaction with Ramaswamy.

In a post-debate interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, DeSantis elucidated that “Nobody is entitled to be endorsed or supported,” diverting from the majority of the primary field that committed to supporting the former President.

Support for the DeSantis campaign has taken an 11-point hit following a campaign reboot aimed at addressing previous challenges, as seen in a recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll published on Tuesday. The poll, conducted ahead of the first GOP presidential debate, shows a drop from 23 percent to 12 percent in DeSantis’s support since July.

Trump, the candidate DeSantis continues to lag behind opted to skip Wednesday night’s debate, instead sitting for an interview with former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson that notably accrued nearly 80 million views in just under an hour.

1 Comment

  1. Janice Griffin

    You neglect to mention the facts about COVID lockdowns – he shut things down, before he opened them up, and that the big bogeyman CRT is not and never has been taught in Florida schools, etc. The “Guns” he stuck to are shooting blanks, but keep on spinning and hope enough people are fooled.

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