Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been positioning himself as a candidate for the Republican nomination for president, gave a preview of his potential 2024 campaign as he won his reelection campaign Tuesday night.
Speaking to supporters in Tampa with an American flag as his backdrop, the 44-year-old former member of Congress made no announcement regarding a potential run for the White House. But in celebrating his decisive victory over Democrat Charlie Crist, DeSantis presented himself as a leader who can get things done as he boasted about his accomplishments in the Sunshine State.
"We made promises to the people of Florida and we have delivered on those promises, and so today, after four years, the people have delivered their verdict: Freedom is here to stay," he said.
At various times throughout his speech, supporters chanted "two more years" in a show of support for a presidential campaign (DeSantis was just reelected to a four-year term in the governorship). As cries of "U-S-A" drowned out those chants, DeSantis beamed from behind the lectern and thanked the audience.
In his speech, DeSantis, who recently made headlines for flying 48 immigrants to Martha's Vineyard in a possibly criminal political stunt and arresting people with felony convictions for voter fraud, criticized "leftist politicians" for rising crime (though crime has also gone up in Republican-led areas), COVID policies, and what he described as taxpayer abuse.
"The woke agenda has caused millions of Americans to leave these jurisdictions for greener pastures," DeSantis said, adding that Florida has been "the promised land" for many people.
"We have embraced freedom, we have maintained law and order, we have protected the rights of parents, we have respected our taxpayers, and we reject woke ideology," the governor said. "While our country flounders due to failed leadership in Washington, Florida is on the right track."
Under DeSantis, lawmakers have passed anti-LGBTQ bills, like the so-called Don't Say Gay law that bans discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom, and disenfranchised nearly 1 million formerly incarcerated people despite Floridians' decision in 2018 to restore their voting rights.
If he does mount a 2024 run, DeSantis will likely face former president Donald Trump, who is expected to announce his own bid soon in the race for the Republican nomination. In 2018, DeSantis won the governorship with Trump's endorsement by just over 32,000 votes. The preliminary results from Tuesday's election suggested he would be reelected by a much larger margin — what he described as "a win for the ages."
As he wrapped up his remarks, DeSantis again held up his state as a beacon of hope and vowed to do more.
"I believe the survival of the American experiment requires a revival of true American principles," he said. "Florida has proved that it can be done."
"We’ve accomplished more than anybody thought possible four years ago," DeSantis continued, "but we’ve got so much more to do, and I have only begun to fight."