DeSantis’ speech rooted in Florida, but it’s aimed at GOP voters across the U.S.
Gov. Ron DeSantis used his inaugural speech Tuesday to straddle both statewide and national political worlds as he takes on a second term leading Florida while eyeing a potential 2024 White House run. He recounted his first term protecting the “free state of Florida” while proclaiming it as a model for a nation hamstrung by liberal ideology and a federal government that “looms over us and imposes its will.” “When other states consigned their people’s freedom to the dustbin, Florida stood strongly as freedom’s linchpin,” said DeSantis, 44, awash in 2024 presidential buzz but who has not yet declared whether he will run. By contrasting Florida with the rest of the country, DeSantis was able to pivot from a roll call of his accomplishments to an indictment against other states that “embraced faddish ideology at the expense of enduring principles.” His 16-minute address echoed his political themes of combating “woke” ideology that won him a landslide reelection, but also notable were his omissions. He made no mention of his one-time mentor and likely presidential rival, former President Donald J. Trump. And he said nothing about some of the major challenges facing the state he is elected to lead: the rising cost of housing, utilities and property insurance, a vulnerable health insurance climate and the increasing numbers of Cuban and Haitian migrants fleeing to Florida’s shores.
“Those issues are not on Fox News,’’ said John Thomas, head of the “Ron to the Rescue” Super PAC that was launched to promote a DeSantis 2024 presidential campaign. DeSantis stayed focused on the issues that resonate most with the voters he needs to capture a Republican nomination for president in 2024, Thomas told the Times/Herald. Although the governor will have to “address those issues in the next few months,” Thomas said, for a national audience voter “perceptions are the realities, and unless they believe Florida is overpriced and expensive, it almost doesn’t matter.”