HOLLYWOOD, FL. – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis lambasted President Joe Biden in a fiery speech to about 1,500 supporters Saturday night at a Republican fundraising event.
As former President Donald Trump held a concurrent court at an event in Tampa, DeSantis trumpeted his handling of the Sunshine State while decrying “woke” excesses and calling for a red wave in November.
The GOP firebrand and potential 2024 presidential candidate has repeatedly mocked Biden using his disparaging nickname “Brandon,” calling his presidency a far-reaching “disaster” that has weakened the country.
“Democrats and Brandon, they deserve a big red wave to come crashing down on them,” DeSantis said as attendees rose from their surf and grass entrances to cheer. “If you look at what we did in Florida, we stood up to the media, we stood up to people like Fauci, to Brandon himself.”
DeSantis echoed his indirect concern for the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis during his speech at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
“We should all send our best wishes to President Joe Biden for a speedy recovery from his fight against COVID,” he said. “Let’s hope the United States recovers quickly from their fight against Joe Biden.”
Presenting Florida as a bulwark against progressive radicalism, DeSantis touted the state’s looser lockdown policies and rejection of vaccination mandates as having preserved its economy.
This approach, he argued, significantly reddened what had long been a purple state.
“When I was elected governor, there were almost 300,000 more registered Democrats in the state of Florida,” he said. “Today, thanks to our efforts, there are now 220,000 more registered Republicans.”
DeSantis has championed some of his most controversial political initiatives to the receptive public — including his ban on teaching sexual orientation and gender identity to young children.
Critics – including big companies like Disney – have argued that the legislation foments hostility towards the LGBTQ community and have called for its repeal.
But DeSantis reveled in his showdown with the Magic Kingdom on Saturday night, arguing that the state’s largest employer deserved the repeal of its special tax status.
“We don’t need to impose a left-wing sex agenda on them,” DeSantis said of his bill that opponents call the “don’t say gay” bill.
In his exhaustive attack on the “revival,” the former Navy officer even pointed the finger at his own former military branch.
DeSantis said he enjoys Tom Cruise’s largely apolitical ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ – but the real military is veering into ideology.
“Then you go out into the real world, and what does the Navy do? They have videos on things like pronouns,” he said. “And I’m like, you know, China is kidding us.”
In the presence of a slew of law enforcement officials, DeSantis lobbied against leniency in prosecutions and calls for defunding police departments.
“What is happening in these areas? ” he said. “Crime is skyrocketing and the inmates are running the asylum. It got so bad they had to call the San Francisco district attorney back. Even those liberal voters couldn’t stand it.
Positioning himself as a party maverick, the polarizing governor took aim at the GOP establishment.
“If Republicans get majorities in Congress, I’m sick of them talking,” he said. “I’m sick of them telling us what they’re going to do, I’m sick of them going through cable. Because you know in Florida, we don’t just talk, we do.
Attracting both fierce support and intense opposition, DeSantis has risen to the forefront of the GOP in recent years, creating a potential clash with Trump should the two men vie for the Republican nomination in 2024.
In keeping with his recent trend, DeSantis did not mention the former president’s name during his speech.