PITTSBURGH – Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis bragged about his record in a campaign-style speech in Pittsburgh Thursday, saying his “battle” has only just begun.
DeSantis spoke at the Allegheny County GOP’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner in the premier battlefield state. He offered tons of red meat rhetoric to the crowd, targeting pandemic shutdowns, critical racial theory, and the mainstream press.
DeSantis, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, is seen by some as a potential GOP 2024 presidential candidate who raised his profile during the pandemic. The Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll in Florida earlier this year found DeSantis to be in second place behind Trump. This week, a Politico / Morning Consult poll on the GOP Primary Race 2024 found Desantis, who can be re-elected next year, ranks third behind Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence.
The governor started his speech by calling out “Open your states, open your schools.” [and] Take off these mask mandates. “In Pennsylvania, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf has ruled that the mask mandate should be lifted when 70 percent of adults are vaccinated. All other mitigation measures must be lifted on Memorial Day.
DeSantis then promoted new voting efforts, counterinsurgency laws, and efforts to remove critical racial theory from the Florida curriculum.
“As we look forward to the fighting to come, we cannot, in fact we will not go back to the days of yesterday’s failed Republican establishment,” he said. “We won’t do that.”
DeSantis saved much of its vitriol for the press and generated specific CBS News and NBC News coverage.
“So what I would say to Republicans, don’t ask these people for approval,” he said. “They don’t like you. They will smear you. They will attack you. The way to win is to fight back and not take it anymore. Don’t let these people set the agenda for our party anymore.”
In closing, DeSantis urged attendees to “hold their own” and teased his plans for the future.
“Hold the line. Don’t go back,” he said. “And in the state of Florida, I was just beginning to struggle with myself as governor.”
Prior to the address, NBC News told a source present that the event was closed to the press. However, Fox News streamed the dinner live. Earlier this month, DeSantis drew attention after signing new voting laws live during an interview with Fox & Friends.