Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told Iowa Republicans Friday that standing strong in the culture wars around issues like education, criminal justice and health care in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic will help their party win elections.
DeSantis, along with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, spoke to more than 600 Iowans at the Iowa State Fairgrounds’ Elwell Family Food Center in Des Moines about the partisan divides in American culture.
Liberals and national media attacked him for actions like reopening schools and banning vaccine mandates, DeSantis said, but he didn’t let those criticisms stop him from taking action. And the 2022 election proved voters didn’t want him to stop, he said.
“They can’t veto you doing the right thing,” DeSantis said. “So we just do the right thing, let the chips fall where they may, we fight that. But the truth is, all I can tell you is I got elected by 32,000 votes. I spent four years of them attacking me and me fighting back, and I won by 1.5 million so I’m fine with that.”
DeSantis’ Des Moines event and a Davenport stop earlier Friday were his first two Iowa events ahead of the 2024 Iowa GOP caucuses, but he has not yet officially announced he’s running for president. His events in Iowa were a part of his “freedom blueprint” tour for his book, “The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival.”
The Iowa Caucuses will kick off the presidential nominating season for Republicans in 2024. National Democrats have moved to drop Iowa from its early-state nominating lineup.
Reynolds and DeSantis share a similar trajectory to the governor’s office. Both were elected for the first time in 2018 – though Reynolds took over the office earlier when former Gov. Terry Branstad left to serve as former President Donald Trump’s ambassador to China. And under their leadership, Reynolds said, both states changed from purple to red.
While Republicans didn’t win as much ground nationally in the 2022 midterms, she said both Iowa and Florida had a “big old red wave.”
Both governors attributed Republicans’ successes in the two states to their approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic – reopening schools, prohibiting vaccine mandates and getting workers back in the field.
Reynolds and DeSantis joked about derogatory nicknames critics gave them during the pandemic for reopening schools: “COVID Kim” and “DeathSantis.”
“Who was right, by the way? Who was right?,” Reynolds said.
DeSantis also talked about his work in Florida’s public schools. Alongside reinstituting in-person classes during the pandemic, DeSantis said his administration removed critical race theory and pornography from schools.
Approaches to issues like schools and law enforcement are areas where different parts of the country have the biggest divides, he said. He talked about supporting law enforcement officers during the nationwide protests following George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minnesota police in 2020, passing anti-protesting laws and getting rid of prosecutors who refused to enforce certain laws.
These problems – as well as bad budgeting and high taxes – are making people leave liberal states, he said.
“People respond to good policy,” DeSantis said. “They respond to good leadership. We compare Florida to New York, which is the closest state to us population wise. We have millions of more people than New York state now.”
DeSantis has been highlighted by political experts as an alternative to former President Donald Trump as the GOP’s challenger to President Joe Biden. Trump is scheduled to visit Davenport on Monday.
In a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll published Friday, DeSantis was viewed favorably by 74% of Iowa Republicans compared to Trump’s 80%. But other results showed potentially waning support for Trump: the poll found 47% of Republicans say they would definitely vote for him, down 22 percentage points from a June 2021 poll, when 69% of Republicans said they would definitely support him.
The poll, conducted March 5 through 8 by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, had 805 Iowa participants, 257 who were self-identified Republicans. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for the overall poll and a 6.1% margin of error for responses from only Republicans.
A Des Moines man in the audience on Friday, Rodney Bergren, said he loves what DeSantis has done in Florida, and thinks those ideas would do well nationally. While he’s not committed to DeSantis — he said former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, also in Iowa Friday, is an interesting candidate — he said he wants someone other than Trump as the Republican 2024 presidential candidate.
“The thing with Trump is he speaks to the normal person,” Bergren said. “He speaks to Joe Six Pack. I don’t hate Trump. … I would like to see somebody that doesn’t get in so much hot water all the time, I guess.”
–Robin Opsahl, Florida Phoenix via Iowa Capital Dispatch
DeSantis seems happy to get a gift that says he is a fascists. At least he know what people think of him, which isn’t going to win him any presidential election.
bush and trump both lost the popular vote; the country and the world lost so much more…
A Thousand Points Of Light
This guy is such a Snowflake it fits.
He show will not fly as he takes on the road up North.
Deborah Coffey says
Repeat after me: Ron DeSantis will NEVER be President of the United States. He is the devil personified preaching that hate wins.
Deborah you are so correct maybe Florida voted him in as Governor but the whole country will never elect him as President. All the honest bad news coverage of listening to him talk shows us he will never be elected again for anything.
I thought he was holding a self portrait.
He’s happy, downright giddy, that he is pushing culture wars. Pitting us against each other for his personal gain. Lovely.”
“The thing with Trump is he speaks to the normal person,” Bergren said. “He speaks to Joe Six Pack.” I got news for you, buddy, you would not be invited to the back door of Mar-A-Lago.
Why waste time voting for Trump or Desantis. Trump in legal hot water, Desantis need mental help. A sad future for the country. If one of them is the Republican nominee I will not vote for them.
Whole place going to shit under Democrats, people like you are the problem… Oh my god, my ancestors were offended by white people, cry me a river, give me pity. Better yet, throw me some free shit, and I will stop whining… bla bla bla
Lamo: Uncalled for, and incorrect.
[Please comply with our comment policy. Thank you.–FL]
But still a typical response of the un-informed
DeSantis doesn’t represent me. I live in Florida in spite of him being governor, not because he is governor.
It is going to be a pleasure watching him lose the election for president. He doesn’t even have the courage to announce he is running since the State of Florida rule is you announce running for President you have to resign as Governor. And we see he is using the excuse that he is on a book tour. Bull crap that is a lie he is out there campaigning and as you saw yesterday he can’t even throw a baseball correctly.
don miller says
Fl. says no more affirm action. earn it says America and stop excusing. we got affirm action jobs , AA commercials, AA lending, AA gov programs. We need AA for white males the true oppressed minority. What we really need is AA basketball for whites like woke is pushing AA golf blacks. Who cares if they can’t jump? It is their diversified presence they bring to the table that matters. Not fair to have so few white BB players not getting an opportunity.
GQP: The party of hate and intolerance.
The dude says
The GQP snowflakes appear to be well represented in the comments right here on this very article.
Kim Gridley says
A question to both DeSantis supporters or detractors: why are so many people choosing to move to Florida? Is it just the weather or something more?
Kim: It’s always been the weather, and no state tax.
@Kim. . . Florida is my home state. I was born and raised there, as were my ancestors for many generations. We sold moved to Sausalito, CA last August and couldn’t be happier to be away from that angry, hate filled culture under the desantis fascist rule. We now live among positive, kind, open minded neighbors in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
People move to Florida because the weather is good (except for Summer), because there is no state income tax, and because the cost of living/retiring is very low. Also, the trump/desantis supporters want to be near their fuhrers.
Simply because a place/thing is popular doesn’t automatically make it “Best”. For example, McDonald’s is some of the worst food for your health, but it is wildly “popular”. . . I guess that says it all. . . the non-thinking chose to move to Florida. If you want to follow the legendary Lemmings, move to Florida.
@To Whom It May Concern
It’s been famously said that all politics are local. This report is about, “Campaigning in Iowa…”
And observed worldwide
Describing desantis, as the most dangerous man alive, is an understatement.
A Housefly may live as long as a month. If I added thousands of words, and many pages, to this page — it (this page) will be long gone, even to a fly, born today.
Oh, that’s an easy one — it is the knee-jerk reaction of reactionaries, and other fools — and deceivers.
I’m grateful to those with the facility and willingness to speak discerningly, knowledgeably, and above all, honestly, at length about any matter. Explaining complexity, intricacy, perspective (true size and scale), probability, etc., is not a task for a few words.
desantis, is the most dangerous man alive.
I did what I could.
DeFascist DeLoser says
Culture wars are not popular. Over 60% of people would rather be woke than the alternative. Going after drag queens and trans people is not popular. They make up less than 1% of the population. Culture wars are his christo-fascist way of keeping the Nazi and MAGA base but many moderate and left of center Republicans will not do this again and have the White House taken over by another mob family that has no answers to any issues except stupid, pointless culture wars that may make some people down on their luck feel better, but they don’t help anyone, they only hurt.