DeSantis touts record while slamming ‘most unpopular president in modern history’ at NC Republican dinner

Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis arrives to speak during the North Carolina Republican Party Convention in Greensboro, N.C., Friday, June 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

GREENSBORO — During a speech in North Carolina, presidential candidate Gov. Ron DeSantis drew clear contrasts between his successes as governor of Florida to the failures in the policies of Democratic President Joe Biden, who DeSantis called “the most unpopular president in modern history.”

“Hello North Carolina, I bring greetings from the free state of Florida and I am pleased to report that our great American comeback will begin when we send Joe Biden back to his basement in Delaware where he belongs,” DeSantis said in the opening of his 45- minute speech at the given at the North Carolina Republican Party Convention on June 9 in Greensboro.

In addition to DeSantis, attendees of the convention will hear from former President Donald Trump as well as former Vice President Mike Pence, who will not be a running mate for Trump in 2024 after announcing his own bid for president earlier this month.

NCGOP Chairman Michael Whatley introduced DeSantis, who wasted no time in taking an early shot in his speech at Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper by saying he knew North Carolina will “do even better” once they have a Republican governor.

“American decline is not inevitable. It is a choice,” DeSantis told attendees of the convention attendees. “It is a choice we will make as Americans over the course of the next 18 months, and I am running for President to reverse this decline and end the insanity we have seen going on throughout our country.”

During the speech, DeSantis hit key policy issues such as illegal immigration, the economy, education, and the federal government’s COVID-19 pandemic response. He highlighted that under his tenure such as blocking China from buying Florida farmland and fighting against Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policies in investing and banking.

He also called for an end to the “weaponization” of federal agencies and several times underscored that leaders cannot think in terms of polls and short-term political consequences but instead must actually lead in the here and now just as he has done in Florida.

“Look, we all know this country is going in the wrong direction. We see it every day. We can feel it,” said DeSantis. “We see the open border. We see the inflation. We see cities hollowed out with violent crime. We see an administration trying to kneecap our own domestic energy production. We see the weaponization of federal agencies. We see woke ideology running amok across all these institutions.”

DeSantis would elaborate on “woke ideology” by saying it has an impact on people’s “everyday lives.”

“When woke takes over the economy through things like ESG, it makes the average American family poorer. When woke takes over our education institutions, it makes the average student dumber,” said DeSantis. “When Woke does things across the bureaucracy, we see how that gets corrupted.”  He later went on to describe the impact Woke has had on military recruitment and military readiness.

“There is no substitute for victory and we have a task in front of us to shake the culture of losing that has infected the Republican party in recent years,” said DeSantis, who went on to refer to the “massive red wave” in 2022 that did not materialize.

DeSantis called Biden the “most unpopular president in modern history,” while warning that if Democrats maintain control in Washington, D.C, they will “pack” the Supreme Court, eliminate the electoral college, and make D.C. a state, but that Democrats would also eliminate Voter ID and legalize ballot harvesting.

He also called out the federal government’s attempt to impose “biomedical security restrictions in the name of COVID mitigation,” before slamming Biden for the deaths of 13 soldiers in the withdrawal from Afghanistan due to “Joe Biden’s gross dereliction of duty.”

“If we want to fix this country, and I think there’s a lot, we need to do but I think we can get it done, we must restore sanity in communities throughout this country,” DeSantis said. “We must restore normalcy throughout this country and we must restore integrity to the institutions that are in this country. Truth must be our foundation and common sense can no longer be an uncommon virtue.”

Recounting how his state reopened multiple bridges within days and weeks instead of months following the devastation brought by Hurricane Ian in 2022, DeSantis hit Biden on the illegal immigration crisis at the U.S. border with Mexico. DeSantis received rounds of applause when he remarked that he had told Biden “I will take my Florida builders and send them to the border wall.”

DeSantis said he will reverse Biden’s “disastrous economic policies” as leading to out-of-control inflation while touting Florida as having the “lowest per capita debt ratio in the entire country” and his state as being the 13th largest economy in the world.

He referenced his leadership in keeping small businesses and schools open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will usher in a reckoning about the disastrous lockdown policies propagated by our federal government – mandates, restrictions – all of that, had devastating impacts on communities throughout this country,” DeSantis said. He went on to talk about the lack of accountability of those who imposed those policies and said that his fear was that a lot of the people involved in those policies “like Dr. Fauci,” think that “they did the right thing and will do it again.”

On education, DeSantis highlighted his successful battle to root out “woke” from schools.

“Of all the things they’ve been able to accomplish, though probably one of the ones that’s closest to my heart, is we’ve drawn a very clear Line in the Sand in the State of Florida the purpose of our schools is to educate kids not to indoctrinate kids,” said DeSantis.

He said that he and his wife, as parents of three young children, both believe very strongly that parents should be able to send their kids to school without worrying about what was being presented to their children in the classroom.

“Kids should be able to watch cartoons, kids should just be able to be kids without having some agenda shoved down their throat all the time,” DeSantis said. “In Florida, we’re standing for the rights of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their kids, including the right of every parent to know what curriculum is being used in their kids’ school.”

He went on to say that parents have had to “blow the whistle” on “very inappropriate materials” found in classrooms that he said included “pornography in a fifth-grade library.”

DeSantis also recalled how he called out “the media and the left” for perpetrating a book ban “hoax.”

“I did a press conference that we called “exposing the book ban as a hoax,” because it is a hoax,” said DeSantis. “But before I said a word, before I had the parents come up, I just played on a video screen the images that the parents had actually objected to. The local news cameras had to cut their feed because they said it was too graphic to put on the air. Well, if it’s too graphic for the six o’clock news, how is it okay for a 10-year-old school child?”

DeSantis received several standing ovations with the longest and loudest following his statements pertaining to his disputes with the Walt Disney Company and how the company had “called the shots for many decades” in Florida but said that “there is a new sheriff in town, and we don’t subcontract our leadership to local corporations” or to “woke corporations.”

“They can say what they want but we will do the right thing, ” DeSantis said of some Republicans siding with Disney over DeSantis standing up for kids. “Let me be clear: We stand for our children. We reject the sexualization of our children. We will fight against anybody who seeks to rob them of their innocence and on that principle there will be no compromise.”

Near the end of his speech, the Florida governor told the crowd that the Founding Fathers studied past republics and found one thing in common – that they all had failed. Recounting the famous question posed to Benjamin Franklin about whether the colonists had a republic or a monarchy, to which Franklin replied, “A republic. If you can keep it.”

DeSantis also tied the beginnings of the nation and Founding Fathers to the need to fight to preserve the “fire of liberty” that started in 1776 at Independence Hall.

After the speech had concluded, North State Journal caught up with Whatley to gauge his reaction to DeSantis’ remarks.

“I think it was a great opportunity to get in front of all the Republican leaders in North Carolina and lay out his vision for America and what that means for North Carolina,” said Whatley.

“I think he did a very good job of being able to put together a vision and lay it out and we are so fortunate that we’ve got Vice President Pence, President Trump, and Gov. DeSantis all coming here,” Whatley said. “I think it’s a true testament to the political and strategic importance of North Carolina as well as the strength of the North Carolina Republican Party.”