Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis has announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. DeSantis made the announcement during a scheduled Twitter Spaces conversation with Elon Musk, the CEO of Twitter.
Accompanying his statement was a video where DeSantis expressed his intention to lead the “Great American Comeback.” He emphasized the need to restore sanity, normalcy, and integrity to society, communities, and institutions.
At 44 years old, DeSantis officially entered the presidential race by submitting paperwork to the Federal Election Commission, with his main campaign group titled “Ron DeSantis For President.”
DeSantis joins a field of Republican presidential candidates that includes Trump, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and tech CEO Vivek Ramaswamy.
Read the full transcript below:
All right. Here we go.
All right. I think we’re broadcasting <laugh>, man. I think we melted the internet there.
Yeah, that was insane. Sorry. We I’m actually doing this from David Sachs’s Twitter account because it looks like doing it from mine. Basically br broke the Twitter system. anyway, thanks everyone for joining. incredibly excited to announce the, if you want to, to have governor DeSantis on with us with this historic announcement. and then look forward to live q a from the Orient. So yeah, with that,
Yeah, I mean, so governor San can, are you there? Can you hear us? I think you broke.
Excellent. I know, I think, I think you broke the internet there. We had over half a million people in one Twitter space, and it was growing by like 50,000 a minute. So congrats on on breaking the internet there, <laugh>. Well,
Yeah, yeah. You, I mean, try some, you know, new things that you, you’re gonna, yes. it’s adventurous, so,
but I, I think the, the, the value here is, is actually really high for people to hear directly from presidential candidates and to answer a q and A live. And you can get a sense for what, how a candidate really is, you know, and, and where it’s not just canned speeches and teleprompters it’s <laugh>. In fact, you can tell by the, you know, some of the mistakes that, that it’s real. yeah. So anyway, with, with, with that, I, I guess I should turn it over to
Yeah, well see. So yeah, governor, there’s been a lot of speculation over the last couple of months about your, your plans. I understand that you may have an announcement to make we’ve got, I think a, a record audience assembled here. you know, that probably the biggest room that’s probably ever been assembled online. what, what would you like to tell them?
Well, I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback. Look, we know our country’s going in the wrong direction. We see it with our eyes, and we feel it in our bones. Our southern borders collapse. Drugs are pouring into the country. Our cities are being hollowed out by spiking crime. The federal government’s making it harder for the average family to make ends meet, and to attain and maintain a middle class lifestyle. And our president, well, he lacks vigor flounders in the face of our nation’s challenges, and he takes his cues from the woke mob. I don’t think it has to be this way. American decline is not inevitable. It is a choice. And we should choose a new direction, a path that will lead to American revitalization. We must restore sanity to our nation. This means embracing fiscal and economic sanity.
Stop pricing hardworking Americans out of a good standard of living through inflationary, borrow, print and spending policies, and please embrace American energy independence. This also means replacing the woke mind virus with reality facts and enduring principles. Merit must trump identity politics. We must return normalcy to our communities. America’s a sovereign country. Our borders must be respected. We cannot have foreigners pouring into our country illegally by the millions. We cannot allow drug cartels to poison our population With fentanyl, public deserves safe communities and law and order must be maintained. In American cities, we can’t have inmates running the asylum, and we must reject attacks on the men and women of law enforcement. We also must reestablish integrity in our institutions. This includes the military. I’m proud to be a Navy veteran and Iraq veteran, and I revere our services. But when revered institutions like those in our military are more concerned with matters, not central to the mission, whether it’s global warming or gender ideology and pronouns, morale declines in recruiting sufferers.
And you need to eliminate these distractions. And we need to get focused on the core mission. We also cannot have true constitutional government if the most significant issues are decided by the whims of unelected bureaucrats, rather than the people’s elected representatives. Reestablishing integrity in our institutions means we must reinvigorate our constitutional system by returning the government to its rightful owners. We the people, no social or eco transformation without representation, truth needs to be our foundation. Common sense can no longer be an uncommon virtue. And in Florida, we proved it could be done. we chose facts over fear, education over indoctrination law, and order over rioting and disorder. We held the line when freedom hung in the balance and we’re thriving as a result. Florida’s the nation’s fastest growing state we’re number one in net in migration, number one in new business formations recently ranked number one in education.
We have a 50 year low crime rate and one of the lowest tax and debt per capita in America. But we also understand governing is not entertainment. It’s not about building a brand or virtue signaling. It is about delivering results. And our results in Florida have been second to none, and we can, and we must deliver big results for America. I pledge to be an energetic executive that will take on the important issues. Biden’s pursued inflationary policies that are hurting working people. We will reverse those policies and we’ll build an economy where working Americans can achieve a good standard of living. Biden’s opened the southern border and allowed massive amounts of drugs to pour into the country. We’ll shut down the border, construct the border wall, and hold the drug cartels accountable. Biden’s embraced medical authoritarianism such as unconstitutional covid vax mandates. We will ensure that those violations of liberty can never happen again.
Biden’s allowed woke ideology to drive his agenda. We will never surrender to the woke mob, and we will leave woke ideology in the dust bin of history. Biden’s also politicized the military and caused recruiting to plummet. We will eliminate ideological agendas from our military, focus the military on the core mission, and we will reverse the poor recruiting trends. Finally, Biden’s weaponized the power of the administrative state to advance his left-wing agenda. We will re institutionalize the executive branch, and we’ll bring the administrative state to heal. Now, you can’t do any of that if you don’t win. There is no substitute for victory. We must end the culture of losing that has infected the Republican party in recent years. The tired dogmas of the pastor are inadequate for a vibrant future. We must look forward, not backwards. We need the courage to lead, and we must have the strength to win.
And to voters who are participating in this primary process, my pledge to you is this. If you nominate me, you can set your clock to January 20th, 2025 at high noon, because on the west side of the US Capitol, I will be taking the oath of office as the 47th President of the United States. No excuses, I will get the job done. Now, these past few years have given me a new appreciation for the fragility of our freedoms. I never thought I would see things in America that we saw during the Covid 19 pandemic, but our founding fathers were keenly aware of the fragility of freedom. When they framed our constitution, they came to arm with having studied the history of every republic and the history of mankind. And they noticed that all of those experiments only had one thing in common. And it was this. Every single one of them had failed.
And so they knew it failed to our country, the United States of America, to determine whether people could really govern themselves. Could we have a society based on the idea that our rights are God-given, not government granted, and that society functions based on the rule of law, not the rule of individual men. And when Dr. Benjamin Franklin walked out of that convention, he was asked, did you deliver a republic or a monarchy? He said, A republic, if you can keep it. They knew freedom didn’t run on autopilot. They knew each generation would’ve a responsibility to safeguard freedom. And it’s our responsibility to do so at this important juncture in our nation’s history. We have a lot of work to do to ensure the country gets back on track. I ask everybody listening to, please join me on this mission. Please invest in our campaign by going to ron desantis.com and making a donation. Thank you. God bless, and I look forward to the discussion.
All right, thank you, governor. Appreciate that. I guess just a, as a, a first follow up here, thank you for putting up with these technical issues. I think we’re, we’re definitely breaking new ground here. As far as I know no major presidential candidate has ever announced their, their their candidacy on social media this way, certainly in a, in a Twitter space. So thank you for doing that. what made you want to kind of take the chance of doing it this way as opposed to just doing it on cable news or the, the usual way?
Well, when Covid hit I had to make decisions about do you go with the crowd or do you look at the data yourself and cut against the grain? And I chose to do the ladder. I faced huge blowback for doing that from the bureaucracy, from elites, from the media. But my view was I had to look out for the people I represented, prefer protecting their jobs, over trying to safeguard my own political hide. But it was very, very lonely. And a lot of those decisions. And part of the reason it was so lonely is cuz there was a concerted effort to try to stifle dissent. There was an official narrative about lockdowns, about closing schools, about force masking, about all these different things that we had to navigate during Covid. and it was an orthodoxy being enforced by the major tech platforms in conjunction with the federal government.
And if we can’t have an honest debate and a free country about issues that affect hundreds of millions of people like lockdowns, then what good is the first Amendment at that point? Those are precisely the times when we needed to have debate, be robust. You should not be taking down articles that criticize those draconian policies. And yet, that’s exactly what happened. So it occurred to me that if that had continued I think free speech in this in this country was on its way out the door. And so when Elon Musk stepped up to purchase Twitter he paid a lot of money for it. and I’m sure because he is a good businessman, Eli, I’m sure you’ll, you’ll end up making money off it. But the bottom line is you had to put your money where your mouth is because I think you recognize that you can’t have a free society unless we have the freedom to debate the most important issues that are affecting our civilization. That did not happen during Covid. The truth was censored repeatedly. And now that Twitter is in the hands of, of a free speech advocate that would not be able to happen again on this Twitter platform. So I think what was done with Twitter is really significant for the future of our country. We cannot have a society in which government is colluding with major tech platforms to enforce an orthodoxy.
Well, thank you. yeah, we’re we’re absolutely committed to freedom of speech and level playing field and just a vigorous debate. And hopefully this can be a platform that brings people of divergent political views to exchange those views. And, and perhaps some minds will be changed one way or the other. And but it’s just in incredibly important as you, as you highlight that the, the, the First Amendment is irrelevant if all the media and all the, and, and the government are operating in lockstep, it’s it, it makes you the most important amendment, the one that was most urgently added to the Constitution. moot if you, if you cannot have free and open debate. so, so Twitter wise, indeed expensive but free speech is priceless.
Awesome. thank you. So governor, let me, I’m gonna ask some questions while we get some other kind of speakers in the queue to, to ask questions. I think maybe some people knew this announcement was coming because there’s been no shortage of hip pieces on you <laugh> Yeah. In the press over the last week or two. I want to ask you about some of these accusations that are being leveled at you. last week the NAACP issued a travel advisory against your state claiming that Florida is not a safe place for minorities to visit. what do you say to those who’ve been advised that somehow they aren’t welcome in your state?
Claiming that Florida is unsafe is a total farce. I mean, are you kidding me? You look at cities around this country, they are awashed in crime in Florida, our crime rate is at a 50 year low. If you look at the top 25 cities for crime in America, Florida does not have a single one amongst the top 25. And if you look at cities like Baltimore and Chicago, you got kids more likely to get shot than to receive a first class education. Yet I don’t see the NAACP batting an eye about all the outrage and the carnage that’s happening in those areas. So this is a political stunt. These left-wing groups have been doing it for many, many years. And at the end of the day, what they’re doing is colluding with legacy media to try to manufacture a narrative. Now, the good news is, is fewer and fewer Americans are gullible enough to believe this dribble.
And platforms like Twitter are there where people can debunk these lies in real time. And I would just say, as an American citizen, if you are uncritically accepting narrative spun by legacy media and left wing groups, you’re failing at your job of being a conscientious citizen. and I think people just see right through it. And oh, by the way, have any of these travel advisories, cuz they’ve been doing this for, for a while, these left ringing groups, have any of them worked? Well, we’re the number one state for net in migration and have been every year since I’ve been governor. We just capped the highest quarter for tourism in the history of the state of Florida. And our view is we want everybody to succeed regardless of their skin color. We don’t divvy up people by race At the same time, it is worth pointing out that we have in Florida more black-owned businesses than any state in the nation.
and we’ve also had more African-Americans lead state agencies under my administration than at any time in Florida history. But with us, you know, they’re there because of merit, not because we’re trying to play identity politics. And if you wanna look at education the black students in the in Florida perform much higher than black students in most other states. We rank number three in fourth grade reading and number two in fourth grade math amongst our black student population. And oh, by the way, the head of the NAACP lives in Florida, and a lot of their board members have put out on social media during my governorship Florida vacations, where they seem to be having an awful good time.
that’s great. well, I mean, Florida’s a great state and I think everyone, the, the, the, the people, people realize that the, the some of the things that are being said are just truly absurd. I mean, I I I saw some headline from the Atlantic basically claiming that anyone who listens listens to this spaces on Twitter is basically a Nazi. so or
Yeah, <laugh>. Yeah, that was the Atlantic. And then Atlantic. Yeah. And then Vanity Fair said that that you were, you were hosting or interviewing because David Duke wasn’t available. Oh, yes, yes. Although, I’m not totally sure who they were saying was David Duke. I don’t know if it was you or Governor DeSantis, it’s sort of, yeah, a little bit unclear. But but
I think this is a function of these, the legacy media, these corporate journal, the, they’re in their little bubble and to, to draw illusions to stuff like that. I mean, how crazy do you have to be? But in their little bubble, it sounds like a good, they’re making some type of profound point. And so part of I think what Twitter is, is standing for is people should be exposed to different viewpoints. And I think the elites in our society have tried to cluster themselves to where their assumptions are never challenged. And that’s not a, a, a good way, I think, to live. It’s also not a good way to, to be a critical thinker, because no one’s ever gonna question obviously wrong assumptions because everybody around you shares.
And I think they become totally hysterical because they don’t like the idea that their control over the media is being, you know, dis mediad. Yeah. Because now, you know, candidates for president can just speak directly to people through platforms like Twitter.
Yeah. I mean, the, the, the amazing thing about Twitter and things like spaces are that although I happen to be hosting it, it, well, I had to switch over to David hosting it because my account was
Actually, there’s too much interest,
But my account was breaking the system. but it’s, it’s there’s really never been a, a mechanism before where someone could address the nation or anyone who wanted to listen to ’em could from, from anywhere in the world the United States or anywhere. So this is a, I think this, this is a really profound change. and it’s also like the, it’s not just whether the media reports something and an article is, is true or not even more powerful is deciding what the narrative is. Totally. And so you know, so just like if there’s only so much you can actually fit in a newspaper or a magazine, and what, and there’s only one thing you can really put on, on the cover of magazines. So that, that whoever’s deciding that is, is deciding to not talk about other things.
whereas with a public digital town square like we have here, it’s possible for the public to choose the narrative. It empowers the people instead of a very tiny elite cabal. which I don’t recognize the irony of me using that phrase <laugh>. but, but nonetheless, it’s, it’s true and judged by the results that this is a means for the people to decide the narrative and for the people to decide what you know, which, which way debate will go. n not sort of five editors in chiefs of few of newspapers, basically.
Yeah. And I think one of the really crazy things that happened during Covid is that, that social networks really started censoring dissenting viewpoints on C O V D medical viewpoints that ended up being totally correct in, in lockstep with what the mainstream media was doing. So basically, big tech platforms were undermining their main reasons for existing, which is giving people a choice. And actually, there’s, there’s somebody who I think knows more about that than any of us, which is Dr. Be Jay Aria, who’s a professor of medicine at at Stanford. I wanna pull him in here. Jake, you can go ahead and unmute yourself if you can. it’d be great to, to hear from you. I know that during Covid you worked with Governor DeSantis, it’d be great just to hear a little bit about your interactions, and if you have a question for the governor.
Yeah, thank you, David. Yeah, I mean, it was it was an absolute honor to work with with governor DeSantis. And, and I was really impressed by his decision making in the face of, of an absolute firestorm of criticism. but he, you know, governor, you did the right thing when you opened the schools. And my kids in California for a year and a half didn’t see the inside of a classroom, whereas Florida kids were in school, and you can see them, the results and the l the learning loss numbers are so much better in Florida. I, I, I’m really curious, governor you know, as, as you’re running for president, what are your thoughts about reforming you know, the, the, the public health authority in the United States and the federal government, the, you know, the C d C, the fda, the nih? How do, how do you see reforms we need so that the mistakes of the lockdowns have that happen during the pandemic don’t happen again when there’s another pandemic?
Well, first we need an honest reckoning about what happened during covid. And the only honest reckoning is that all of those agencies, all of the elites, the public health establishment, they failed. They instituted bad policies. obviously it’s a novel virus, but I think what happened was when the data was becoming more and more apparent that the path they were on was wrong, they doubled down and wanted to do it even more. And I really believe had Florida not just kind of stood in the way I think this country would’ve had rolling lockdowns for probably a two year period. And so their impulses were authoritarian. They were not following the data. And I think the US government needs to acknowledge the failures. And I think all of those agencies need to be cleaned out. what I saw just dealing with them was I saw a interest in the narrative and in politics over evidence-based reasoning and evidence-based medicine. And so I don’t have confidence that, that those agencies are up to the task. and I think you need major, major overhaul of the whole enchilada with respect to public health in this country.
Can I, so can I follow up with that with that, I, I mean, I think the the, the other thing that I saw during the Pandemic Governor, and you, you was subject to it just as much as I was when we were talking about Covid YouTube censored a video of us speaking about in a round table that you hosted on Covid policy. there’s so much of the federal government infrastructure went into suppressing honest scientific discussion during the pandemic. So it’s not just public health agencies, but other agencies inside the federal government that worked to suppress the speech of Americans. And I’d love to hear your thought
About, no question. No question. So I’m actually in Florida, we, we recognize that the, the danger there. So I’m actually gonna be signing a digital bill of rights for Florida pretty soon, which will bar all state and local government officials from colluding or working with a technology company for the purpose of censorship of speech. Because you’re exactly right. You had people in the White House, you had people in all these other agencies working with these platforms to try to take it down. And oh, by the way, what did they censor Dr. Batta for? It was a round table discussion that I led and convened. We had Dr. Batta, md, PhD from Stanford. We had Martin Caldor from Harvard Medical School, and we had Sontra Gupta from Oxford, who was generally viewed as one of the best epidemiologists across the pond until she became anti lockdown.
So these are all eminent people. And what are we discussing? We’re discussing whether there’s any scientific basis to force a school child to wear a mask for eight hours a day. They all agreed there was no basis to do it, and that you should not have school mass mandates. YouTube thought that that was, quote, anti-science, and that that should be taken down. But even at that point, we had already had enough experience in Florida where you had some schools that had done it before, before the state banned the mandates. You had some schools that had done it, some schools didn’t. And the results were no different. And yet his video was taken down by Google, YouTube. So it was a huge, huge problem. And yes, I think the federal government, fbi, s any of the health agencies it’s unconstitutional for them to be delegating speech restriction to a private company. You can’t do indirectly what the Constitution would clearly forbid you to do directly.
Let me, lemme pull in. we have Congressman Thomas Massey, if you’re there go ahead and un unmute yourself. I mean, what we’re talking about here is I think, really unconstitutional actions by federal agencies. Congressman Massey, I know that you’ve been involved in, in this problem of, you know, government agencies being weaponized and, and used against the American people in an inappropriate way. do you have a comment on this? and do you have a, a question for Governor DeSantis?
Well, first of all, let me say a big thank you to Elon Musk for buying Twitter and exposing all of this on our weaponization committee. We wouldn’t know so much of it if he hadn’t done this almost as a public service to the First Amendment. it’s a disturbing trend. Government, as the governor said, the government is colluding with big corporations. We found out this week from an F B I whistleblower that Bank of America voluntarily gave names of and, and information on anybody who bought a hotdog in Washington, DC from January 5th to January 7th, and then overlaid that with gun purchases that they had on record anywhere in the country for any period of time. And just, they say they voluntarily gave that to the fbi. So that’s disturbing to me. by the way, I’ve never met Elon Musk, but I’m one of your biggest fans. I’m the first congressman to have a Tesla. I’m on Star. Thank you. I’m on starlink. And I would’ve bought a power wall, but I’m off the grid and you wouldn’t sell me one. So I had to make one with Erect Model S. And it’s <laugh>, it’s been running our house for five years. But my, my,
And just for the record I, I as a, I was with Thomas our first year is in Congress. He’s got the Tesla, but his license plate is Kentucky Cole. So it’s he’s probably one of the only people that have that in the country.
<laugh>, thanks for outing me, governor DeSantis. but no. So governor DeSantis, my question to you is, you know, you served here in Congress for six years with me, and why is it that Congress is so feckless at reigning in these government agencies, and, and what do you think we need to do? And if you were president, what, what would you urge Congress or what bills would you like to see and sign to reign in this you know, sort of overreach of government bureaucracy?
Well, first, I think there’s a lot that the executive branch can do. And I, all, I will say, when it comes to these agencies, we’ll put, we’ll, we’ll go into this a little bit more as the campaign goes on, but buckle up when get in there because the, the status quo is not acceptable. and we are gonna make sure that we re institutionalize this government, and these agencies are totally out of control. There’s no accountability, and we are gonna bring that in a very big way. Now, part of the reason it’s gotten so bad, power’s been consolidated and effectively a fourth branch of government, because Congress hasn’t used its two main powers that it has under the constitution. First, the power of the purse. If an agency is gauging in conduct that is outside the realm of what is legal, or you think it’s not good for the public interest, then you can remove the funding for those, for those operations.
there’s nothing that, they’re not entitled to get the same level of funding every year. And yet, Congress runs the government on autopilot, either continuing resolutions or massive omnibus spending bills. So these agencies are all bulletproof. They know that they’re gonna end up getting something similar or more every single year and it creates an incentive for them to, to abuse their power. The other thing you, you can do is actually legislate. So you’re not delegating to the bureaucracy key issues regarding how to enforce federal law. You should define what you want. All they should be doing is implementing. Instead, Congress will basically give an invitation for the bureaucracy to make really important substantive decisions. And so Congress may never vote on something, and the bureaucracy will cite a law from 20 years ago and do things that are gonna transform our society or our country.
That is not the way the founding fathers drew up the Constitution. So would you sign the reins Act? We passed it out a judiciary today. Oh yeah. No, of course. Yeah, that’s a no-brainer. that would, I think, be a great check for that. I also think that we’re gonna have a good chance to see some of the Chevron deference really curtailed or maybe even eliminated based on the US Supreme Court’s upcoming jurisprudence. And I think that’s a another reason why the bureaucracy has become so powerful, because courts have basically been told they can pretty much do what they want, and, and courts are supposed to just defer. I don’t think that that’s actually correct. I think the courts they have to make a judgment about what does the law actually say, and you can’t just defer to quote unquote experts in the bureaucracy. Thank you.
All right. Shifting gears. Governor, I wanna ask you another topic that’s been in the news a lot is Disney. they blamed you for canceling plans for a billion dollar investment in Florida. Said it would. They were canceling 2000 jobs. I saw other reports that suggested Disney was gonna make the cuts anyway. and due to a larger, you know, budget cutting initiative regardless of why they did it why do you feel your fight with Disney remains important considering you already beat ’em on the parental rights bill that they opposed? And what would you say to some of your opponents in this race who argue that the fight has dragged on too long?
So, first of all, Florida stands for the Protection of Children. We believe jamming gender ideology in elementary school is wrong. Disney obviously supported injecting gender ideology in elementary school. they did oppose our parents’ rights legislation. And the fact is, when they opposed it, that was a big deal because for 50 years, anytime Disney wanted something in Florida politics, they pretty much got it. but not this time. I signed the bill. we did, as you say, went on the issue. But what happened was Disney’s posturing some of the other statements that their executives were making, kind of the corporate culture had really been outed as trying to inject matters of sex into the programming for the youth. And I think a lot of parents, including me, look at that and say, that’s not appropriate. I mean, we want our kids to be able to just be kids.
And that’s kind of our mantra. So you had this, this setup that Disney engineered many decades ago where they actually had their own government that they controlled with no accountability. They were exempt from the laws that all their competitors had to follow massive tax breaks. And they even racked up municipal debt, and Florida basically put them on a pedestal many decades ago and joined the state with this one company at the hip. We just didn’t feel that, that we were comfortable maintaining that relationship. And so we ended their self-governing status. so Disney has to live under the same laws as everybody. They gotta pay the same taxes as everybody, and obviously they’ll be responsible for those debts. So the reason why there’s a quote fight is just because they filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida trying to get their special privileges reinstituted.
but I don’t think that that’s good, good policy. And I think some of these Republicans that are taking Disney side they’re basically showing themselves to be corporatists because these are all corporate goodies. this is not the way you would run a competitive economy. And the, the arrangement had really outlived its usefulness, but it, but it persisted because Disney was so politically powerful. I think the company’s ethos have changed in a way that’s alienated a lot of people in our legislature and in Florida. And so there was really no justification to keep it. But make no mistake, they’re suing to try to get special privileges. People are making money in Florida handover fist because we have a great business climate that’s not good enough for them. They want to be treated differently than universal and SeaWorld, and we don’t think that that’s appropriate. So, you know, I think that they should withdraw the lawsuit, but obviously we’re gonna defend our actions because we think we have the right to do what we did.
You know, it’s funny, the, the media used to criticize Republicans for being in the pocket of big corporations, and now they’re attacking you because you’re not
Well, not only that, David, it’s interesting because the media in Florida for years had had hammered Disney, and they would, they would point out like that this was, this was not a good arrangement because, you know, Disney was not accountable to anyone. I mean, when we, when the state control board took over the, this district, the firefighters came to the board and they said, Hey, we weren’t getting survivor benefits for, for some of these widows. And so the state control board actually paid out some of the benefits that they were getting stiffed on. There were a lot of people in Central Florida who were really thankful that there was some accountability being brought to bear because, I mean, you know, it’s human nature. If there’s no accountability over any individual or entity, of course they’re gonna behave differently than if you have a normal accountability.
But the media was always very hostile to that. But just because I happened to be involved in bringing it back to reality and making sure that they were under the same laws, well then all of a sudden they’re running to, to Disney’s defense. I mean, are you kidding me? And oh, by the way, on this project, you know, they had announced this many years ago. They had not done anything for it, but that is actually not in Reedy Creek. So that was in a different part of Orlando. And so none of the issues that are involved in their suit would’ve made, would’ve made a difference there. Obviously, as a publicly traded corporation, you know, they have a fiduciary duty to do what’s best for their shareholders. So I’m assuming if they were in better financial shape and they saw the project as lucrative, they would’ve gone forward with it.
But I think clearly they’ve had some problems with their stock price and a lot of other issues. And I’d also just finally point out, nobody probably has made Disney more money than me, because they were open during Covid and they were closed in California. And that went on for many, many months, where literally I had all the theme parks in Florida opened in 2020. People are going, it’s safe. They’re having fun. And the California parks were closed. I think they were closed for over a year out in California. So we were I think a much better place to be doing business certainly since I’ve been governor.
Great. Let me shift gears here to the topic of education. I wanna pull Chris Rufo into conversation, work with you on some initiatives. I think, you know, one other thing that the mainstream media has, I think bash on is they’ve kind of started promoting this narrative that you want to ban books from school libraries. You refuse to teach kids about slavery or other unpleasant realities of American history or pretend that gay people don’t exist. since many people, I think in this room, we’re now up to wow, over 271,000 people. So this is, I think, totally unprecedented in terms of the numbers of people we have participating. By the way, I think Twitter’s working much better now. I think it crashed because when you multiply half a million people in a room by an account with over a hundred million followers Yeah. Which is Elon’s account, I think that created just a scalability level that was unprecedented. But with my meager followership, it seems to be working much better.
Yeah, no, it, it’s, we have some, some scaling issues specifically related to my account. at one point in January if I tweeted above a certain size it would crash the surface.
and and, and, and then anyone else who is tweeting at the same time would, would lose their tweet as well.
So, so in any event, we’re scaling issues. Yeah. Well, we’re breaking new ground here. We’re scaling issues. Yes. You know, you’re breaking new ground when there are bugs and scaling issues. But in any event, back back to the question I was asking you, governor DeSantis about education, the media has been, you know, saying you’re trying to ban books, you’re refuse to teach kids about slavery. You wanna say that gay people don’t exist? What, what is the truth of the matter for people who maybe have never heard from you before? And then I want to pull Chris Ruo in on this as well.
Yeah. So the whole book ban thing is a hoax. There’s not been a single book banned in the state of Florida. You can go buy or, or use whatever book you want. What we have done is empowered parents with the ability to review the curriculum, to know what books are being used in school, and then to ensure that those books match state standards and are age and developmentally appropriate. So, for example parents have flagged books in schools that for example, teach middle school kids how to use sex apps that provide graphic depictions of sex act and sex toys for people as young as fifth grade. And so clearly that is not appropriate to be in a middle school classroom. And so parents object and, and the schools take them out. I did a press conference that we called Exposing the Book Band Hoax.
And before I had the parents come up, before I spoke, I just played the video that had the images of the books that the parents had objected being in their kids’ classroom. And the local news had to cut the feed because they said it was too graphic. Well, if it’s too graphic for the six o’clock news, how is it okay for a sixth grader or a fifth grader? And so nothing’s being banned. They’re basically ensuring that we make curation choices that are consistent with state standards. And on the, the, the racial history, we eliminated critical race theory from our K through 12 schools. That was the right thing to do. In other words, we’re not gonna take a kid who comes in at six years old and say they’re an oppressor or oppressed based on what their race is. That’s divisive. That’s wrong.
We’re also not gonna be teaching people to hate their country. But what we are gonna do is teach the accurate history. So in the same bill that banned critical race theory, we required teaching thoroughly about racial discrimination that occurred in American history. And Florida’s history standards require all of those subjects from slavery, reconstruction, segregation, all of that to be taught and will continue to do that. So I think what you see is the, the left and the media colluding on this, they don’t wanna actually defend what it is that we are actually legislating or regulating. so they create these hoaxes that somehow you don’t want kids to learn that slavery existed in America, which is preposterous. No one actually defends the offending material. And the question is, is why are there people intent on trying to get this stuff into the classroom?
and I think it’s part of a political agenda. So our, our mantra in Florida is this purpose of the schools is education, not indoctrination. Yes, I think it’s very inappropriate to have sexually explicit material in a fifth grade library, a hundred percent. But it’s also the case that if you’re focusing on that type of, of instruction, there’s an opportunity cost involved, why won’t we, why shouldn’t we be doing more on science or reading or math? And so I think we’re getting it right. And I think almost invariably, and Chris Russos had to deal with this too when they’re trying to craft these narratives, if you just peel back the onion, you realize that this is something they’re manufacturing.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I mean I was actually under the impression that, that that the worst books span. So, so this is news to me.
and they actually, there was a, the one this week was that Miami Dade County took a book that was about like poems from from I think like Biden’s inauguration. And they moved it from elementary school library to middle school library. The media tried to act like somehow this is being banned. And you actually had Miami-Dade County Public Schools spokesperson have to come out and say there’s nothing that’s been banned or removed. It was basically just determined that this particular book was better suited for middle school. And so they put it in the middle school media center, and the media tries to act like somehow that is offending something wi with a, with a book ban. So but I think part of the reason that they’re doing that is because, you know, there is actually a movement to ban books from like Amazon and some of these others, California, some municipalities have banned things like To Kill a Mockingbird. What they’re trying to do is see if some of these books pass a woke test, and if they don’t, they are going against some of those books. Whereas in Florida, you can buy whatever book you want, but that’s a different question than what would be appropriate for a third grader, or what would be appropriate for a sixth grader. Government, by definition, has to make those choices about what type of curriculum we wanna put in front of our students. And the parents obviously have an important voice in that.
A absolutely. Well, in fact a friend of mine Tim, Tim Urban, who has a blog called white, white at Wine, is really one of the most reasonable people on earth, and one of the most reason people I’ve ever met had a lot of trouble actually publishing his book. simply because it, it debated sort of sacred cows of work ideology but incredibly reasonable book. So that that’s the, that that is the kind of defacto book banning and de defacto book suppression that, that I see quite a lot of is, is that the publishers are unwilling to take,
Let me, let me shift gears here for a second. Cause I know we’re running out of time. we’re supposed to end, I think around four, but four Pacific. But thank you for giving us a little bit of extra time here. Governor shifting gears to major federal issue immigration. we see kind of, I’ve seen these videos on social media and on TV of what looks like just insanity at the border. what is, what is your take on what’s going on there and how would you address that as, as president?
Well, I’d reverse what Biden’s doing. You need to shut the border down. You should not be entertaining these asylum claims for people crossing illegally. Now, asylum is a legitimate thing, but these are people that when they come, I mean, they’re being persecuted. These people coming overwhelmingly are economic migrants that are coming across many other different countries. They should be applying for asylum there if they were, you know, truly qualifying for that. but they’re not, they know that if they just show up at the southern border, and these are people all over the world that are coming illegally, they know that they will get a sheet of paper saying, okay, come back for a court date in three years, and they get released to the interior of our country. It’s an absolutely insane system. So we’ll stop that. we will move on day one by declaring a national emergency.
We will construct a, a border wall. We will make sure we have remain in Mexico, and that we’re not entertaining those claims in that way. And we really need to hold the Mexican drug cartels accountable because they’re facilitating a lot of this migration. They obviously make money off of it. They treat a lot of these people very horribly as they’re trafficking them through Mexico and into the United States. And of course, the cartels have been responsible for moving massive amounts of fentanyl into this country. And that’s killing tens of thousands of Americans every year now. And what they’re doing is they lace the other types of drugs with the fentanyl. So you may have like a, a teenage kid doing something they probably shouldn’t do, but in pri prior generations would not have been fatal. And now if it’s laced with fentanyl, you know, these kids can overdose and die. And so mothers are losing kids as a result of this fentanyl epidemic. And I just don’t think you could allow these criminal organizations to continue poisoning our population. So it’ll be a day one issue. we will bring o overwhelming amount of resources to deal with it. and we are gonna stop this insanity once and for all.
There’s a, I think, follow up question on immigration from Steve d who is national radio personality and I think important commentator in the great state of Iowa. Steve, do you have a, do you have a comment or question? I think you just need to unmute. If if Steve can unmute, then we’ll go ahead and ask him for a question. If not we’ll, we’ll keep rolling here. All right. Three, two, going, going, gone. I’m there guys. Sorry, Steve. I’m, I’m there guys. Oh, there he is. Alright,
My bad. first of all, I want to echo what Congressman Massey said to Elon Elon, if I put down money on January 1st, 2022, that Twitter was gonna be the last bastion of free speech on Earth, brother, I’d be about as rich as you are on that bet right now. I mean, it’s incredible what you have done here. and the restoration of a lot of accounts of people that were truth tellers and were ran from here for telling the truth. I saw a meme the other day that said, of course you have scientific consensus when you censor all the scientists who disagree. So I wanted to just say, first and foremost, on behalf of a lot of grateful people around the country and the world, really thank you very much for that and the investment you made in that cause. Thank you.
a question is a follow up to you governor, on this very issue with immigration. We have heard a lot over the years lock her up, drain the swamp, gonna build a beautiful wall, Mexico’s gonna pay for it, and crowds cheered and everybody loved it. And brands got built and nothing got done. What is the bottom line assurance that you can make to the people that are listening right now all over the world and all over the country, that you can actually do the agenda that you just articulated when others tweeted about it and talked about it, but then couldn’t actually follow through?
It’s a great question because I shared that frustration. I think even my worst critics in Florida will acknowledge when I tell people I’m gonna do something. I don’t say, I don’t make promises or say I’m gonna do something lightly. I’ve thought it through. and I know that I am gonna follow through on what I tell people I’m gonna do. So this is one, there will be follow through. Number two, I understand the different leverage points that you would have under Article two of the Constitution. I study that a lot at becoming governor about Florida’s constitution doing the same thing for the federal Constitution. And you’ve gotta know how to use your leverage to advance what you’re trying to accomplish. So for example, you know, there’s leverage that we can use vis-a-vis Mexico that I think presidents have not been, not been willing to, to do, I think sometimes for political purposes.
but I’ll look at, okay, what are all the variety of options we can do? Which buttons can I push? And I will do that to be able to bring this issue to a conclusion once and for all. We had Hurricane Ian come through Southwest Florida category four plus storm September of 2022. And it did a lot of damage, but one of the things it did, it knocked out a bridge going from the mainland to Pine Island, and it severed the sandal causeway in three different locations. And the locals were being told It’s gonna take six months to get that stuff repaired. And so they came to me even though these were not state owned bridges, and they said, can you help us? And I said, okay, I’ll do it. So I got my guys together, I said, listen, no bureaucracy, no red tape and no excuses.
Get it done. We need to open these bridges back, pine Island Bridge reopen three days later. Causeway opened two weeks after that way, way ahead of schedule because we wouldn’t take no for an answer and we wanted to make sure we got it done. So for me, it is not a campaign slogan that you get in and then forget about it. I’m as an American citizen, if I wasn’t running, this would be an issue that bothers me. I’ve put a lot of my capital as Florida governor involved in combating illegal immigration. We banned sanctuary cities my first year. We just did a strong anti alegal immigration bill in Florida that that’s working. I’ve put marine assets in the Florida Keys to help the Coast Guard repel boats from places like Haiti. I have people at the southern border right now helping Texas, and we’ve even been able to relocate illegal aliens to places like Martha’s Vineyard. So I don’t think any governor has probably gone out of his way to do more to try to make an impact on this issue. And I’m not gonna take no for an answer. And I think our voters are sick of the empty promises they want to see. Action. Thank you, governor.
Well, governor I saw, yeah, I saw the cover of Time Magazine this week, and I think they were trying to do a negative story because they had, you were sort of scowling in this portrait they made of you. and in the article they call you the, the, they compared you to the Terminator. And I think they meant insult, but I thought it was kind of cool. I thought it was a good thing because I think we need a cool-headed, ruthless assassin to go in and basically take on the woke mob, take on our outta control government and take on problems like the ones at the border. So again, I thought it made you sound great, even though that may not have been their intention.
Well, look, at the end of the day, this whole business that we’re in is about producing results. I don’t care about fan fair, you know, I’m the governor. Like that is, I’m known, right? And I go around the state and everything and people are very nice. And so, I mean, I appreciate the well wishes, but, but I don’t need any of the fanfare. I don’t need any adulation. I just know I’m in a position where I have a chance to make a difference and I’m either doing it or I’m not. And I remember sitting at the desk and and, and the state capitol my first day as governor four and a half years ago, I looked around the room and I thought to myself, I don’t know what S SOB is gonna succeed me in this chair, but they are not gonna have anything to do cuz I’m getting all the meat off the bone. I am gonna make sure that I’m leaning into issues and making an impact. And we have done that in the state of Florida and I’d bring that exact attitude up to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Governor, I’d love to, to to jump in and, and follow up on that. This is Chris Rufo. And, and I’ve had the honor of working with you in the past few years on critical race theory, gender ideology, and the d e I bureaucracy. And what I’ve seen up close and personal is that while many conservative politicians going back decades have made headlines and got on television playing culture war, they never actually get anything done. And what you’ve done over the last few years is really astonishing. You’ve eliminated c r t from all Florida’s public institutions. You’ve stopped gender ideology dead in its tracks in K through 12 and just last week you eliminated the d e i bureaucracy in all of Florida’s public universities. They’ll be shut down completely. And I think what you’ve done is established a, a blueprint for fighting back against the lefts long march of the institutions and making sure that those institutions reflect the value of Florida voters not left wing activists and the partisan press. So my question for you is, you know, DC is another animal. It’s quite different the scale of the federal government and how are you gonna deliver results? And what is your cultural culture war strategy facing down the swamp in dc
Well some of it is, is similar in this respect when we’re taking on things like d e i you get blowback from legacy media and the far left. But tho that’s an example of an issue where they are out of step with the vast majority of Americans. It’s not just Republicans, it’s independents and a lot of Democrats. Cuz you think about if you’re a, if you’re a parent and you’ve got kids, you wanna know when they apply to college, they’re gonna be judged based on their merit and they’re not gonna be roadkill in some type of woke Olympics where they didn’t fit some category. And so they’re denied opportunity. They wanna make sure that achievement matters. And so we get a lot of quiet support for a lot of those things. And so I think what I do, just cuz look, I’m a blue collar kid.
I grew up in the Tampa Bay area working minimum wage to get through school. You know, my grandfather worked in the steel mill in Western Pennsylvania. I just know instinctively kind of what like normal people think about a all this stuff and I have a good sense of when the legacy media and the left are are outside of where the average American is because people want you to be using common sense and things like d e i I mean when I was growing up, I think it, it, things were, were were better cuz people were actually told you should try to get along. Now they’re told you need to segregate. And it’s just crazy that they’re trying to do all this stuff. So by eliminating that there’s a lot of people that were really happy about that. including people that certainly are not traditional Republicans.
And I think there’s similar issues when you do in the federal level. It’s also the case that there are some tools at the federal level that we don’t necessarily have at the state level. For example, some of the problems with the university and the ideological capture that didn’t happen by accident can trace back all the way to the accreditation cartels. Well guess what? To become an accreditor, how do you do that? You’ve gotta get approved by the US Department of Education. So we’re gonna be doing alternative accreditation regimes where instead of saying, you will only get accredited if you de do d e i, you’ll have an accreditor that will say, we will not accredit you if you do d e i, we want a colorblind merit base accreditation scheme. And so as president controlling that agency, you can then approve other types of accreditation.
So I think part of it is just knowing where are all the pressure points? How does it get to the point that we then see and that somebody like you will run a report on. Like, when you see some of the outrageous stuff that’s generated in some sociology department at a university that didn’t just happen at a thin air, there’s a reason why we got to that point. and I think that there are some tools with the federal government where you can push back and try to get these institutions more in a more foundational direction about, Hey, we’re pursuing truth here. and we’re not here to try to impose one niche ideology on the entire student body.
Great. Shifting gears. Dana Ash, you, you do you have a a question or comment for the governor?
I do. And thank you both so much for your time, for joining us in a very new way. I really appreciate that. I think it’s really cool. and for your support of free speech too. And Elon, I have to say thank you for taking the arrows and for Unth throttling the accounts of all of us who got in trouble for sharing a New York Post story about a laptop. and governor, I wanted to thank, I wanted to thank you for your leadership and your unwavering support of Second Amendment rights, and you’re on my program tomorrow, and I just gotta say, you got my vote in the primary, so I appreciate it very much. I, you were talking about d e I just a minute ago, and I, I wanna ask you both about this growing threat against natural rights and free enterprise. It’s this threat of de banking.
Now, I know that you know, Elon, I’ve read so much about you and what you’ve gone through. You’ve called E S G criteria, evil Incarnate governor DeSantis Florida saw financially weaponized Ry earlier this year when Wells Fargo Bank dumped both the business and business and personal accounts of a very prominent and well-respected gun dealer in Florida. They’d been together for 25 years working with Wells Fargo, and they cited new E S G guidelines. Now, similar to the DOJs previous Operation Chokepoint, all these activists for various causes are using this regulatory guidance to de bank what they consider to be politically incorrect businesses for the sake of risk management. Now, we say that our rights should not be infringed upon by the government, but what can and should be done about activist, guided financial institutions and these, you know, payment processors who are essentially cutting off law abiding citizens and
Well, I think it’s just, it’s a fundamental issue that I think not enough conservatives have been wise to. I think more and more are, but at the end of the day, we have certain fundamental rights. And so maybe you’re somebody that is you know, really excited about your Second Amendment rights, and obviously if the government comes in and infringes that, we know you blow the whistle on that, that’s a problem. But what if Wall Street banks are colluding so that somebody can’t function in that space, whether it’s running a store or, or anything involving that, your rights are still being infringed upon in that situation. And so I think this whole e s G movement is really trying to do through the financial sector what they could never achieve through the ballot box. And so they’re trying to do an end run around the constitutional system, and they’re really trying to change policy.
They’re trying to change society and they’re trying to change the scope of people’s rights. And so in Florida, I just signed anti ESG legislation, which said things like, no e s G criteria in our pension fund, we got 180 billion state pension fund no social credit scores for consumers when they’re going to bank. In other words, if you apply for a loan, that loan should be judged based on your credit worthiness, not whether you’re genuflecting to the appropriate left wing causes. but one thing we did do is we did provide protection against this de banking with the woke banking no discrimination based on your religion and other things, which we are, we know is happening. So I think it’s a, it’s a, it’s a fundamental question, but we will not be a free society if major financial institutions can do through the economy what people could not achieve through the ballot box. Our rights will be restricted will be the end result. And that’s not healthy for a free country.
You know, as a follow up to that governor Dana mentioned Operation Chokepoint. And that is a, a term that’s very familiar to crypto companies in Silicon Valley. And FinTech companies basically are, it refers to an effort by the federal government, including the s e c, to basically regulate blockchain and crypto companies out of existence. They really feel like they’re being driven out of the country. And I’m not talking about scammy ones or the totally fake ones like ftx, but really high quality good companies, including companies that are public, like Coinbase. And these guys are basically begging the government for just a framework. They’re just like, tell us how to operate legally and we’ll do it. you know, I guess where, where do you come down on this? what, what is your view, I guess broadly of Bitcoin and people’s right to hold Bitcoin and to transact Bitcoin and
Those coins? You have every right to do Bitcoin. The only reason these people in Washington don’t like it is cuz they control it. And they’re central planners and they want to have control over society. And so Bitcoin represents a threat to them. And so as you’re saying, they’re trying to regulate it out of existence. Look, could Congress enact a statute to ban things like Bitcoin under the Constitution they may be able to do? I would oppose that. I think we should, people should be able to do Bitcoin, but Congress has never addressed this in this, in this fashion, and for the bureaucracy to just do it on their own and make it so people can’t operate in that space. That’s what we mean when we say we’ve gotta return the government to the people’s elected representatives who are our voice to be able to make these decisions. And so as president, we’ll protect the ability to do things like, like Bitcoin. I think these are people that are, that are sophisticated. They can make decisions, there’s risks involved with it. but, but let them do that. I just do not have an itch to have to control everything that people may be doing in this space. And I think that the current regime, clearly they have it out for Bitcoin, and if it continues for another four years, you know, they’ll probably end up killing it.
Yeah, I th I think you’re right. And I think that is the strong feeling of people in s Silicon Valley who are in this space and I think will be heartened to hear your answer on that. I mean, the weird thing is that, and there is a huge constituency of crypto Twitter. So for people who are maybe part of political Twitter who are wondering why we’re talking about this, it really is a, has a big audience for this topic. Dogecoin too. I just wanna have side <laugh>. This is a big deal. Yeah, Bitcoin and Dogecoin <laugh>. so shout out to all the, the Doge the Doge fans out there. Yeah. But the weird thing is that this, this administration they seem to want to ban Bitcoin, but they want to create A C B D C, which stands for a central bank digital currency. what, what, what’s your take on that?
So we were the first state just last month we actually got the Florida legislature to pass a law that says Florida does not recognize Central Bank digital currency, cuz some states were actually adding that to their uniform commercial code. you know, the federal government’s studying this, we did the opposite and say we didn’t. Now the reason why we did that is cuz what the Federal Reserve has said is, well you know, we’re gonna consult with Congress, we’ll consult with the executive branch. We don’t have a C B D C right now. And ideally we would get authorization for Congress. Well, wait a minute, it’s not, ideally you must get authorization from Congress. I don’t think Congress would authorize it. So if they unilaterally try to do this, we’re trying to provide protection for people here in Florida. I know Biden did the executive order, they’re studying it.
I can tell you if I’m president, we are not doing a central bank digital currency. I think that that would be a huge, huge imposition on people’s financial freedoms and financial privacy. And oh, by the way, what would the logical result of this be? If the central authority has oversight over this, of course they’re gonna start imposing e s G criteria. Oh, wait a minute. You, you filled up your gas tank three times this week. You can’t, you can’t do anymore the sky of how they would be able to manipulate this. So I, I see it as a massive transfer of power from individual consumers to essential authority. And I don’t think that that’s good for a free society. So I’m a, I’m a no on Central bank digital currency.
Good. Yeah. Great. Well, governor, I, I wanna thank you for the time. I mean, we could go for hours here, but I, I know you only had an hour and we’ve gone over that. So I wanna be respectful of your time. I know there’s so many people that want to ask questions and we we should
Do it again. I mean, I think it was fine. Yeah, I, I think this is great and we’ll make sure that that we come back and do it again. This, this is a, this is a great platform. I mean, we, I would like to see other platforms going in the same direction, but you know, a healthy democratic society needs the robust debate. So I just want to thank everybody for listening in. and I’ll just make that pitch again. You know, we want you on the team. We’d love for you to go to ron desantis.com and make a donation so that we can get this done on this nomination and win the election in November of 2024. God bless everybody, and thank you.
Thank governor. And yeah, we have over 300,000 people in the room. It’s really been pretty incredible. And, you know, we started with some technical issues because of the sheer scale of and unprecedented nature of what we’re doing. But yeah, it’s not how you started, it’s how you finish. And I think this finished really strong. So
Yeah, I think it’s just, it’s just really great for the people to hear directly from presidential candidates and to have, have it in, in a conversational tone. I would, which obviously results in, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s gonna be imperfect because it’s not scripted. So but it’s genuine. and I think that that really gives the, the people an opportunity to understand who, who might be their president in a way that’s real. So thank you very much for, for coming
On and doing this, and the invitation’s open to any other candidates who might wanna do this.
A a absolutely. it is important for people to hear directly from candidates. So thank you for working with us on this historic event and yeah, looking, looking forward to future conversations and, and just ha having a great national dialogue.
All righty, everybody. Thanks for just, bye-bye.