DES MOINES, IOWA — On Tuesday, Ron DeSantis rallied Iowan supporters in his first appearance as an official candidate.
Florida’s governor pointed to the differences between himself and other Republican candidates, telling voters that he would close the border and would have fired Dr. Anthony Fauci during the pandemic.
“Leadership is not about entertainment. It’s not about building a brand. It’s not about virtue signaling,” DeSantis said. “It is about results.”
He also reminded conservatives that they can wish for change, but nothing will get done unless their candidate actually wins the election.
FREEDOM OVER FAUCI-ISM
DeSantis repeated his well-known phrase that Florida “chose freedom over Fauci-ism” during the pandemic and doubled down on his position that Fauci should have been fired early on.
“You do not empower somebody like Fauci,” he said. “You bring him into the office and tell him to pack his bags.”
DeSantis also pledged to usher in a reckoning for the federal government’s disastrous COVID policies.
“From lockdowns to vaccine mandates to fiscal and monetary measures, the policies eroded freedom and they imposed great harms on American society,” DeSantis exclaimed. “We desperately need accountability so this never happens to our country again.”
In what appears to be a new strategy, DeSantis answered questions from the mainstream media and said he plans to “counterpunch” against former President Donald Trump’s attacks.
“The former president is now attacking me, saying that [Andrew] Cuomo did better handling Covid than Florida did,” DeSantis explained. “I can tell you this: I could count the number of Republicans in this country on my hands that would rather have lived in New York under Cuomo than lived in Florida in our freedom zone.”
“If we just decided the caucuses on that, I would be happy with that verdict by Iowa voters,” DeSantis added.
“BUILDING AN ARMY”
Kristin Davison, CEO of Never Back Down, a super PAC supporting DeSantis, said they are “building an army that’s worthy of the enthusiasm that’s already behind DeSantis.”
The organization has boots on the ground in four early-voting states, including Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. According to Never Back Down, almost 200 volunteers have knocked on over 50,000 doors in the Hawkeye State. In addition, the super PAC is committed to spending $100 million to train door knockers and staff an office in West Des Moines.
DeSantis will make four stops in Iowa today as he works to build a coalition of voters before he heads to New Hampshire tomorrow and South Carolina on Friday. But he’ll be back in Des Moines on Saturday to attend Senator Joni Ernst’s annual Roast and Ride fundraiser at the Iowa Fairgrounds.