In California Visit, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Mocks Liberal “Woke Mind Virus”

Speaking at the Ronald Regan Presidential Library, the presumed GOP presidential candidate touted his achievements and slammed the left

Under a week after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill stripping Disney of its self-governance over its property in the state. Republicans in Orange County flocked Sunday evening to see the presumed presidential hopeful at a fundraising event following his fiery speech earlier in the day.

Appearing on Sunday before a massive crowd at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library’s Air Force One Pavilion, DeSantis touted his achievements during his years as Florida’s top official, slammed Democrats’ “woke mind virus” and nodded to the ongoing war of words he’s engaged in with California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“I knew you guys got a lot of problems out here, but your governor is very concerned about what we’re doing in Florida, so I figured I had to come by,” DeSantis told the crowd, later adding, “So in Florida, we say very clearly, we will never ever surrender to the woke mob. Our state is where woke goes to die.”

DeSantis went on about what he says is the liberal agenda—one of his major talking points as he’s led the Sunshine State and a central theme of his governorship.

“I think these liberal states have gotten it wrong, and why are they getting it wrong? I think it all goes back to ideology,” he said. “And it goes back to this woke mind virus that’s infected the left and all these other institutions. I mean, think about the way they have governed their states.” 

Ahead of his presumed bid for the U.S. presidency, DeSantis has already entered a battle with former President Donald Trump, who has now entered the 2024 race. The feud between the two Republicans is expected to be the key battle to watch as the GOP chooses its 2024 nominee. On Sunday, DeSantis made a clear reference to the chaos that engulfed the White House during Trump’s tenure. 

“I can tell you, in four years, you didn’t see our administration leaking like a sieve,” he said from the stage. “You didn’t see a lot of drama or palace intrigue. What you saw was surgical precision execution, day after day after day. And because we did that we beat the left, day after day after day.”

At the Sunday evening fundraiser, DeSantis held a 45-minute Q&A with a college classmate from Yale, Michael McClellan, in which he explained how Florida navigated the COVID-19 crisis and how he has tried to deal with so-called “woke” policies of corporations, among other issues.

Orange County Republican Party Chairman Fred Whitaker said O.C. Republicans are “incredibly honored” that DeSantis chose to headline the event. 

“It was sold out in no time, with 900 people and over $740,000 raised so far,” Whitaker said. “It shows the tremendous interest in the governor’s successful leadership model for his state and the nation.”

John Moorlach, the former Orange County supervisor, told City News Service that he expects DeSantis to have the edge over former President Donald Trump in winning over swing voters.

“A good percentage of the population growth [in Florida] has come from New York and New Jersey—not necessarily Republican strongholds—so, if he’s doing well with that constituency base I’d like to listen to him and see what he’s got to say,” Moorlach said.

Trump appears to have become too divisive, Moorlach added.

“I think Donald Trump’s policies were really good, but his megalomania style is a turnoff, and in management, you’d like to see a little humility,” Moorlach said. “I’m not here to say negative things about Trump, but I think he’s so hard-wired it’s difficult for people to jump over those frustrations that they have with him…

“There’s a lot of people out there who think Donald should take a break — maybe it’s time for something different. Am I in the Ron DeSantis camp? Maybe. But I don’t know yet,” Moorlach concluded.

In addition to Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are also expected to jump into the race for the Republican nomination; Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations, declared her candidacy in February. 

City News Service contributed to this report

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