RENO, NEVADA — Before headlining the 8th annual Basque Fry in Nevada on Saturday, Ron DeSantis surprised supporters Friday night as the first presidential candidate to attend the Reno Rodeo.
DeSantis arrived with his wife Casey and their three kids, Madison, Mason and Mamie – clad in cowboy boots, jeans and matching “RD24” navy blue t-shirts. They shook hands and took selfies with attendees before getting settled into a VIP box hosted by one of the rodeo’s sponsors.
Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, a longtime Donald Trump ally who chaired Trump's 2020 campaign in Nevada, also attended the rodeo alongside DeSantis. Laxalt now chairs the pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down.
SERVING BEER TO VETERANS
But before stopping at the rodeo, Ron and Casey stopped to chat and drink beer with veterans at Reno’s VFW Post 9211, also known as “The Bunker.”
Social media posts of Florida’s governor handing draft beer to veterans went viral as DeSantis refused to serve “woke” beer.
“I’ll serve you anything but Bud Light,” DeSantis told patrons amid cheers.
One man challenged DeSantis to chug his beer and while we didn’t see Florida’s governor chugging, he toasted to veterans and thanked them for their service while taking some big gulps of the brew.
“THE DUMPSTER FIRE OF WOKE IDEOLOGY”
The more important question is whether DeSantis can make a noticeable effect in Nevada, where Trump lost the state in both general elections.
“Trump hasn’t won Nevada the last two go-arounds,” Laxalt told NBC News. “I was a two-time Trump chair. I don’t see a path for him to win Nevada in a general election.”
On Saturday night at the annual Basque Fry event in Gardnerville, DeSantis called for a return to “sanity” in America, taking his usual aim at “woke ideology.”
“We need to restore sanity in this country,” DeSantis said. “We need to restore a sense of normalcy to our communities. We need to make sure our institutions have integrity.”
Continuing his call to revive a “country in decline,” DeSantis criticized the “the dumpster fire of woke ideology” in cities with Democratic leadership, telling voters that “insanity is reigning supreme,” and the U.S. is “off the rails.”
RISING IN NATIONAL POLLS
So far, DeSantis is the only Republican presidential candidate in a crowded race who’s made a dent in the National Polls when compared to former president Donald Trump.
A new poll found Florida’s governor faring better against President Biden than Donald Trump in the 2024 contest for the White House.
According to the DailyMail.com/J.L. Partners survey, Biden beats all of his potential Republican opponents except DeSantis, where he trails 43 percent to 44 percent.
Other polls, including the latest results from RealClearPolitics show similar results, with DeSantis beating Biden by 1.3 percentage points.