Ron DeSantis took a full stance against President Joe Biden and Democrat politics, delivering veiled digs at Donald Trump in his first campaign speeches since announcing his candidacy last week when he and his wife Casey DeSantis shone in Iowa.
The Florida governor railed against the border crossing, rising crime in Democratic cities, COVID-19 lockdowns imposed over drug addiction and Biden’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, lamenting that the president’s son, Hunter, would already be in prison if he would be a Republican.
He vowed to send Biden “back to his basement,” a nod to the 2020 presidential election, when the president conducted most of his campaign from a makeshift basement television studio.
“We cannot allow inmates to run the institution,” he said, referring to the country’s current democratic leadership and state.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday opened his 2024 presidential campaign with fiery remarks at a megachurch outside of Des Moines, Iowa
The governor and his wife, as well as Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis, were stunning. Both of them went about it more casually than usual, wearing matching blue outfits
DeSantis also took a dig at his fellow Republicans, calling House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s debt ceiling agreement with President Biden a way to bankrupt the country.
He differed from top competitor and former President Trump by claiming he wasn’t running for president for fame.
“Ultimately, leadership isn’t about entertainment,” said DeSantis to much cheering. “It’s not about building a brand.” It’s not about signaling virtue. It’s about results.’
Casey stood up for her husband and was given a warm welcome as she explained her voice was “horse” because she was “negotiating” with her kids about not being able to color the dining table with a permanent marker.
The Florida First Lady, who is often compared to legendary first ladies Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Nancy Reagan, wore a vibrant blue gown that matched her husband’s button-down gown.
An enthusiastic crowd gathered at Eternity Church outside of Des Moines, Iowa on Tuesday night to listen to the newly announced candidate – many seeing him speak for the first time.
DeSantis berated the crowd, saying that the recent statement that Iowa is the Florida of the North is actually the opposite — and that Florida is the Iowa of the Southeast.
Tuesday night saw primarily two types of participants — those who were determined to win DeSantis for the 2024 Republican nomination and others who were paddling the waters to see if they were ready for a third straight election to renounce for Donald Trump.
The difference could usually be discerned by those wearing pro-DeSantis signs and adorned with swag bearing the governor’s name and by those in civilian clothes.
Mitch, 46, brought his son to the event and said he is on a fact-finding mission, attending both the DeSantis addresses and another event Thursday in Iowa with former President Trump.
Roxanne, 68, said she voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020 but said his “personality” put her off and made her curious about what other candidates had to offer.
While she has no “expectations,” Roxanne told DailyMail.com that she came to DeSantis’ first campaign since announcing his candidacy “just to find out, to listen to him, to just get a feel for who he is. “ ‘
“I want him to unite one,” she added when asked what she would want in a presidential candidate. “I mean not just for the whole country, but especially for Republicans — we have so many disagreements within the party.”
The Florida governor’s Iowa swing begins at a megachurch and ends Wednesday night at a racetrack in Cedar Rapids.
Introduced by Gov. Kim Reynolds, DeSantis praised his Iowa counterpart — in an interview with Fox & Friends earlier this week, he claimed their policies are making Iowa the Florida of the Midwest.
DeSantis’ decision to campaign in a church is a nod to the importance of the evangelical base in the Republican Party.
In some deep red states like Iowa, churchgoers are particularly important and will help decide which candidate secures the presidential nomination.
DeSantis officially announced his candidacy for president last week and kicks off his Great America Comeback Tour Tuesday with a 12-city tour of the early Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina primary elections.
Volunteers put up pro-DeSantis signs prior to his arrival in Florida
Constituents around Des Moines told DailyMail.com this week that they want to see what DeSantis is all about as he was quickly emerging as the main main rival against former President Trump.
But most Republicans in the early state of the primary have yet to make a final decision on whether to vote for DeSantis or Trump in 2024.
Whit, a Des Moines-based rideshare driver, told DailyMail.com Monday night that he believes DeSantis could beat President Biden if he secured the nomination — he’s not sure Trump could do the same.
Julie, a 42-year-old mother of two, who sips coffee Tuesday morning before work, said she wants to “hear what he’s about” before deciding whether to vote for Trump or DeSantis in the Republican primary will vote.
Several restaurant-goers have expressed their skepticism about choosing between Trump and DeSantis at this early stage to DailyMail.com. One said: “I voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020 and might switch to someone else if I like what he says.”
It was hard to get anyone to say whether they absolutely would vote for DeSantis in the primary, as most said they didn’t know enough about the Florida governor to make a decision yet.
But there are still a few die-hard Trump supporters in Des Moines who say they won’t let down the former president on his third bid for the White House.
“I like DeSantis, but I think he should have waited until 2028,” Jack, a retired Des Moines resident, told DailyMail.com.
After kicking off in Des Moines at Eternity Church Tuesday night, Gov. and Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis will visit four other Iowa cities, ending at a racetrack in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday.
The couple then head to New Hampshire for a four-city tour of the small Northeast state, followed by another one-day three-city trip to South Carolina on Friday.
DeSantis then plans to return directly to the trip start point in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday to attend GOP Senator Joni Ernst’s Roast & Ride fundraiser.
“As military veterans, both Joni and I understand the importance of supporting those who have served our nation – and I’m excited to have the opportunity to do just that at the annual Roast & Ride,” DeSantis said in one Stop explanation on the additional page.
“Over the past few months, Casey and I have had the pleasure of meeting hard-working Patriots throughout the great state of Iowa,” he added. “Florida and Iowa have led the way in the fight for our way of life — and I’m running for President to take that fight to the White House.” Our mission is simple: we are building a movement to restore America.”
DeSantis is acutely aware of the importance of winning over the Republican primary in Iowa if he is to beat Trump in 2024.
“We compete everywhere. “Iowa is very important,” the governor told Fox & Friends on Monday. “We received an incredible amount of support. I was supported there by 37 MPs before I even announced my candidacy.”
“We obviously have a lot in common with Iowa, what Florida and the country did under Governor Kim Reynolds,” he added. “And I think the support has been really, really strong. ‘We’re going to move the case forward.’