Earlier this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was the featured guest in a town hall discussion entitled “Leading to Liberty” for Sean Spicer’s program Spicer & Co. on Newsmax. In the hour-long interview, DeSantis fielded questions from Spicer and the audience ranging in topics from Florida’s COVID response, illegal immigration, and education.
Political pundits who watched the interview said it felt more like an informercial for a possible 2024 presidential run, but others said he made his case for reelection in 2022.
DeSantis was on the offensive at times throughout the night, criticizing President Joe Biden’s first few months in the White House, but also theorizing where Florida would be right now if he had not been elected in 2018.
“If I had not won in 2018, you guys would be wishing you had the governor of Michigan compared to what we have. We would have had kids locked out of school, we would have the (New York Gov. Andrew) Cuomo nursing home policy,” DeSantis said. “They would not have done seniors first for vaccines, and I think we’d have the highest unemployment rate in the country because a California lock down on a service-based economy like Florida, it would have hurt a lot of low- and middle-income people.”
DeSantis was asked about the Republican Party and if he still talks with former President Donald. J. Trump, to which he said he golfed with Trump recently and speaks with him “relatively frequently” over the phone.
“I kidded him once because he helped me in 2018. In 2020 … we did very well in Florida. And so at one point, he’s like, ‘Well, you know, we’re even,’ ” DeSantis said. “I was like, ‘Actually Mr. President, I think you may still owe me. Let me ask you this: How much has Mar-a-Lago increased in value since I became governor?’”
Law enforcement was also a significant portion of the discussion as DeSantis received significant pushback in the media and from political opponents for the signing of HB 1, known as the anti-riot law, which is facing a legal challenge.
He went to say the riots facing much of the United States last summer was not happening in Florida.
“You see some of the things that were happening in Minneapolis, that’s not happening in Florida,” DeSantis said. “When we had protests last summer, I called out the National Guard, saying, we’re not having riots, we’re not going to do that. But I understood, you can’t just be on defense, you’ve got to go on offense. So, we passed the strongest anti-rioting, pro-police bill in the country this year.”
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