Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis proclaimed that he only begun to fight which headlined a Pennsylvania event on Thursday night where he hinted at his future political ambitions.
With more than 40 months before November 2024 and in the key swing state of Pennsylvania, the race for the Republican nomination for president is already underway. And while the 42-year-old governor said nothing concrete about his future plans beyond winning reelection next fall, DeSantis hinted at his ambitions with his final line of the night:
“I can tell you this: in the state of Florida, with me as governor, I have only begun to fight.”
Prior to his speech, as the 750 people began eating their salads at the Republican Committee of Allegheny County’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner, the mere mention of DeSantis’s name by the party chairman prompted cheers. And when a local pastor, in the midst of a lengthy prayer before the meal, said DeSantis would make a great president of the United States, the entire room let up a roar of approval.
DeSantis fired up the crowd during his half-hour address with a slew of applause lines on a number of topics currently animating Republicans and conservatives — from fighting against “Big Tech oligarchs” and the “corporate media” to opposing defunding the police and banning teaching critical race theory in schools.
“While in all these lockdown states closed schools, shuttered businesses and destroyed lives were the norm, in Florida, we’ve had schools open the entire school year,” DeSantis said.
“Our businesses are thriving and we’ve saved millions of livelihoods from the brunt of lockdowns, and all I can say to any state that has not followed suit: Open your state. Open your schools. Take off these mask mandates. Let people live and thrive,” he added.
DeSantis highlighted his work to free citizens during the pandemic, contrasting Florida’s efforts to locked-down states like Pennsylvania.
DeSantis also touted Florida’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Florida had one of the lightest responses to the pandemic while prioritizing the protection of those most vulnerable to the disease.
“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 said, according to CNN. “When it came right down to it, we chose freedom over Fauci-ism.”
DeSantis beat Democrat Andrew Gillum in 2018 by about 33,000 votes to become governor of Florida. Despite the thin margin, DeSantis has gained significant support from Floridians for his pandemic response and other initiatives. A May poll from the Florida Chamber of Commerce showed that DeSantis has a strong base of support among registered voters with 55% approving of his leadership and 40% disapproving.
DeSantis has been one of the leading critics of the Biden administration, especially over President Joe Biden’s decision-making and rhetoric related to COVID-19. Earlier this month, DeSantis accused the Biden administration of being “anti-science” after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested pausing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over six cases of blood clots out of 7 million vaccinations.
“The fact of the matter is, that is an anti-science posture, to say that we need all these restrictions even with mass vaccination. Because the numbers of the vaccines are better than the clinical trials were, in terms of the effectiveness,” DeSantis said. “If you look at CDC, I think they have over 95 million people have now been vaccinated. The people that have been re-infected or infected after vaccine, has been way less than one-tenth of 1%. These numbers are about as good as you could possibly hope for. So my message is the vaccines protect you, get vaccinated, and then live your life as if you’re protected. You don’t have to chafe under restrictions infinitum.”
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