Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis might have been playing to an out-of-state crowd, but that didn’t stop him from driving his points home.
In an address Sunday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, the prospective presidential contender took aim squarely at the Golden State Gov. Gavin Newsom.
And scored a direct hit.
“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 said at the start, referring to Newsom’s periodic attempts to attack Florida from the other side of the country.
He then contrasted how Florida — growing in population, attracting retirees and working families — stacked up against California, a state crumbling under its sclerotic “leadership” in Sacramento, where Newsom and his fellow Democrats hold sway.
“And I think if you look over the last four or five years, and you look at the performances of individual states, and you compare Florida versus California, New York, Illinois, some of those other states, we have had a great experiment, a great test in governing philosophies,” the governor said. “Because, of course, you know, we approach things much differently in Florida than you guys have out here, much differently in Florida than they’ve done in New York and in Illinois and many of these other states.”
“And if you look over the last four years,” DeSantis said, “we’ve witnessed a great American exodus from states governed by leftist politicians imposing leftist ideology and delivering poor results, and you’ve seen massive gains in states like Florida, who are governing according to the tried and true principles that President Reagan held dear.”
Moments later, he dropped a sentence that has to be humiliating for Newsom and his political party — because of what it says about them, and their method of government.
“From the beginning of this state’s history, all the way until the last four or five years, people beat a path to California,” DeSantis said. “You didn’t beat a path away from California. And yet now you see the state hemorrhaging population.”
The numbers don’t lie. Under DeSantis’ leadership through the pandemic, when he reopened the state’s schools in August 2020 and kept other public facilities open while focusing protections on its most vulnerable population, Florida’s population grew from about 21.5 million in 2020 to more than 22 million in 2022.
Meanwhile, California, which kept its residents in lockdown far longer, registered a drop in population of 500,000 over the same years, according to the Los Angeles Times. It was the first population decline in the state’s history.
In other words, Americans saw good and well what was happening in California, saw what was happening in Florida, and chose Florida — and freedom.
In his speech, DeSantis hammered that point home.
Not only did schools stay open, he noted, but Florida businesses did, too, making the Sunshine State attractive to visitors.
“We did things like ban vaccine passports in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “Some states said, ‘You want to go stay in a hotel, go to a restaurant, you got to cough up your vax papers on these mRNA shots.’ And we said, ‘That’s none of their business. Everyone has a right to participate in society. That’s a personal choice that you make whether to take that or not, and we’re not going to let you be excluded.’
“Now, what ended up happening because we did that, one of the things that ended up happening was 2021, Florida set a record for domestic tourism. If you compare the change in tourism in California from 2019 to 2021, California tourism declined by 22 percent.”
It wasn’t clear where DeSantis got the “22 percent” figure, but numbers posted by Visit California, the state’s tourism board, bear out the general thrust. Travel spending in the state was down almost 31 percent from 2019 to 2021, travel industry employment was down 21.2 percent, and travel-generated tax revenue was down 25.4 percent.
Again, Americans saw what was happening in the two states, and chose Florida — and freedom.
Newsom, who has been touted as a presidential contender — so he can do to the rest of the country what he and his party have done to California — hasn’t been shy about launching ludicrous attacks on DeSantis.
(In a classic case of leftist reality reversal, in July of last year, Newsom’s political campaign even bought ads in Florida, according to Fox News, telling Florida residents, “Your freedom is under attack.” It’s absurd on its face.)
So naturally, the California governor turned to the same tactics to launch a pre-emptive attack on DeSantis on Saturday.
He “welcomed” the Florida governor in a statement, according to ABC News.
“California residents are safer, healthier and more prosperous than those unfortunate enough to have you as their governor. Oh, by the way, you’re going to get smoked by Trump,” Newsom said, referring to 2024 GOP candidate and former President Donald Trump.
If everything he said about California residents versus Florida residents were true, Americans wouldn’t be flocking to Florida and U-Hauling their assets out of California.
And while Newsom is as free as any other American to offer his opinion on potential Republican nominees for president, he would do well to remember his own party is the one that’s led the country into a disaster since the beginning of President Joe Biden’s administration. And Americans know it, even if the establishment media pretends otherwise.
DeSantis hasn’t even officially declared a presidential bid yet, though one is widely expected.
Whatever happens in the GOP nomination process, though, one thing is already clear — and it’s the real point DeSantis made in his appearance on Newsom’s home turf:
Americans can see with their own eyes what different kinds of leadership — what different political philosophies — can do to states like California and Florida.
And given the choice between leftist, statist tyranny and conservative-government freedom, they’re going to choose freedom. They already are.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
Ron DeSantis Travels to California and Humiliates Gavin Newsom on His Own Turf
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