Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a near-proclaimed presidential candidate, has intensified his travels to headlines and events ahead of an official announcement. believes he can propel him to the Republican Party nomination.
On Wednesday, Mr. DeSantis introduced a slew of measures that hit all the notes of culture clash his base has rewarded him for, including bills banning gender transition care for minors, preventing children from attending “adult live performances” like drag shows, and restricting the use of preferred pronouns in schools.
“We just have to let our kids be kids,” Mr. DeSantis said at a Christian school in Tampa. “What we have said in Florida is that we will remain a haven of sanity and a citadel of normalcy.”
It was his third consecutive day of holding public signing ceremonies statewide. The ceremonies, which he organizes in his official capacity as governor, allow Mr. DeSantis is able to promote his political message in environments that he carefully stages like a true MC, summoning additional speakers and then thanking them for their contributions. These events sometimes have the feel of political rallies.
Such a platform gives Mr. DeSantis an advantage over his potential rivals for the presidency — many of whom are either absent or in legislative positions — as he races to announce his candidacy, which will likely be by the end of the month. to happen.
On Monday, his signing of a bill to shut down diversity and equity programs at public colleges and universities drew headlines, as well as loud protesters. He and other Republicans sharing the stage mocked the protesters, many of them students at New College of Florida, a public liberal arts college in Sarasota that the governor has been trying to turn into a conservative bastion.
The signing of bills targeting the LGBTQ community on Wednesday was “a total assault on freedom,” Joe Saunders, the senior political director of Equality Florida, an advocacy organization, said during a virtual press conference. He noted that Mr. DeSantis had already signed a six-week abortion ban, as well as bills that allowed doctors to refuse care on moral or religious grounds.
DeSantis sees freedom “as a campaign slogan in his bid for the White House,” Saunders said. “The nation must be on high alert because today we are all Floridians.”
Some center Republicans say the way Mr. DeSantis has pushed Florida to the right on social issues is a potential weakness in a general election. Representatives for Mr. DeSantis did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
As he travels across the state, the lines between Mr. DeSantis’ role as governor and potential presidential candidate can sometimes blur.
After signing several bills into law near Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday to combat human trafficking, an issue the right has sought to weaponize in national politics, Mr. , and Paul Renner, the speaker of the House.
After the signing was completed, Ms. Passidomo and Mr. Renner stepped to a lectern—printed with the Florida state seal, instead of the “Stop Human Trafficking” sign the governor had used moments earlier—to endorse Mr. DeSantis as president, a office which he is not yet formally seeking.
Katie Betta, a spokeswoman for Ms. Passidomo, said the approval was a matter of convenience because the governor and legislative leaders had not been together since the legislative session ended May 5. “It was a good opportunity to answer a question they have both been receiving press coverage since the day they were sworn in last November,” Ms Betta wrote in an email, referring to Ms Passidomo and Mr Renner.
The governor is expected to reveal more approvals from state legislators soon. Behind the scenes, his allies are jostling with former President Donald J. Trump’s backers to secure those pledges. At the federal level, members of Florida’s congressional delegation have championed Trump heavily.
Mr. DeSantis has now held an official event every weekday this month. He spends his weekends on political travel, including last Saturday to the crucial early voting state of Iowa.
Since winning his re-election in defeat in November, Mr. DeSantis has regularly faced questions about his national political ambitions at state events. For months he usually fended them off with jokes about how he wasn’t interested in petty power struggles and that it was too soon to talk about future campaigns as the annual legislative session loomed.
Not anymore. On Tuesday, Mr. DeSantis offered the opportunity to Mr. berating Trump for dodging a question about abortion. The former president had criticized Florida’s six-week ban as too strict, while remaining non-committal about the restrictions he might support.
“I signed the bill. I was proud to do it,” Mr. DeSantis told reporters. “He won’t answer whether he would sign it or not.”
This time it was the swipe at Mr. Trump that made headlines.