Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is a rising star in the Republican Party.
DeSantis clinched the Governor’s race in 2018 after a three-term stint in the United States House of Representatives. Over the past several months, the 42-year-old Harvard Law School graduate and former JAG Corps member gained national recognition after taking a hands-off approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Accordingly, DeSantis has emerged as a popular choice for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. One recent poll — which did not include former President Donald Trump — shows DeSantis leading a crowded primary field with 17% of primary voters, closely followed by former Vice President Mike Pence.
In the same survey, DeSantis notably emerged as the only Republican with a neutral net favorability rating among the national electorate, indicating that he could feasibly contend with the Democratic nominee in the general election.
In addition to high popularity among Republicans, DeSantis is known for his matter-of-fact commentary when taking aim at his opponents — from big tech firms and Joe Biden to those hounding him for enjoying a beer at a football game.
Here are eight times DeSantis went viral for his actions as Governor.
COVID restrictions — “We will never do any of these lockdowns again”
In comparison to other Democratic — and Republican — governors, DeSantis was reluctant to use executive powers in shutting down businesses and mandating face masks.
As early as August of 2020, DeSantis announced that he would end the state’s restrictions on private freedoms.
“We will never do any of these lockdowns again, and I hear people say they’ll shut down the country, and honestly, I cringe. The most draconian lockdown in the world has been Peru — military enforced since March. They have the highest per capita mortality in the world from COVID,” he remarked at a press conference.
“And at best, what the lockdown will do is delay. It does not reduce the ultimate mortality … it creates a lot of other problems with mortality that a lot of people don’t necessarily focus on,” he added.
Republicans were not the only ones to cheer the governor’s move. Noting that the state managed to minimize both COVID-19 deaths and unemployment, many Florida Democrats quietly acknowledged that DeSantis’ policies were well-executed.
Vaccine passports — “Two classes of citizens”
In step with his COVID-19 approach, DeSantis recently banned vaccine passports throughout the state of Florida via executive order.
Commenting on the measure, which bans government entities and businesses from forcing “patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery,” DeSantis said that “requiring so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports for taking part in everyday life — such as attending a sporting event, patronizing a restaurant, or going to a movie theater — would create two classes of citizens based on vaccination.”
“You want to go to a movie theater, should you have to show that? No. You want to go to a game, a theme park? No. So, we’re not supportive of that.”
Legacy media — “Smear merchants”
CBS’s “60 Minutes” accused DeSantis of giving special treatment to Publix for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, then appeared to deceptively edit footage of the interview to remove the bulk of his refutation.
DeSantis was not pleased.
“They cut out everything that showed that their narrative was a piece of horse manure and it shows you how dishonest, these are smear merchants — that’s why nobody trusts corporate media. They are a disaster in what they are doing,” he explained. “They knew what they were doing was a lie. I knew what they were doing was a lie. Everybody here knows what they were doing is a lie. They know that we know they’re lying and yet they continue to lie.”
“We offered them the information and they declined to interview the key people because they didn’t want to let go of the narrative. Well, guess what? There are going to be consequences for that,” added the governor.
DeSantis was equally enraged during the interview in question.
“First of all, what you’re saying is wrong, that’s a fake narrative,” DeSantis told “60 Minutes” reporter Sharyn Alfonsi. After explaining that Publix had a different mandate and received vaccine doses after retail pharmacies, DeSantis exclaimed, “I just disabused you of the narrative and you don’t care about the facts.”
Immigration surge — “Intentional,” “Ideological”
DeSantis blasted President Biden for lax immigration policies that created a surge in illegal border crossings.
Commenting on the White House’s handling of the border, DeSantis suggested that though President Trump managed to control migrant inflow, Biden “created this crisis. … I think that this is intentional. I think this is ideological.”
Weeks earlier, DeSantis slammed the Biden administration for allegedly failing to test migrants for COVID-19.
“So, he’s opening the border. He’s letting illegals pour in. They’re not doing any COVID tests. They’re just coming into the communities,” said DeSantis. “We have no idea what type of COVID or other things [they] may be carrying, but yet he wants to potentially make you take a test if you just get on an airplane and fly from one American city to the next, or he wants to prevent travel to the state of Florida?”
Florida travel ban — “We will respond very swiftly”
In the early days of the Biden administration, the White House had allegedly considered a travel ban on the state of Florida for a reported surge in COVID-19 mutations.
DeSantis spared no time in denouncing any such move from the President.
“I think it would be unconstitutional, it would be unwise, and it would be unjust,” said DeSantis, quipping that “restricting the right of Americans to travel freely throughout our country while allowing illegal aliens to pour across the southern border unmolested would be a ridiculous, but very damaging farce.”
“We will not back down, and if anyone tries to harm Floridians or target us, we will respond very swiftly,” he added.
No such travel ban on Florida has since come to fruition.
National Guard in DC — “They’re not Nancy Pelosi’s servants”
After it became clear that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi intended to keep National Guard forces in Washington, D.C., indefinitely, DeSantis was among the first governors to call troops home.
As Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald reported, DeSantis ordered Florida National Guard members to leave the nation’s capital because “they’re not Nancy Pelosi’s servants.”
He also flamed the Democrats’ intention to keep soldiers in D.C. as a “half-cocked mission.”
Social media firms — “Big tech cartel”
DeSantis was among the first governors to fight technology companies’ banning of conservatives.
In February, DeSantis announced support for a bill that would fine social media platforms up to $100,000 for censoring political candidates.
“What began as a group of upstart technology companies from the west coast has since transformed into an industry of monopoly communications platforms that monitor, influence, and control the flow of information in our country and among our citizens,” said DeSantis at a press conference. “These platforms have played an increasingly decisive role in elections and have negatively impacted Americans who dissent from orthodoxies favored by the big tech cartel.”
DeSantis pulled no punches in denouncing Big Tech for suppressing reports about Hunter Biden: “You’re trying to tell me if there was hacked information that could damage me you guys wouldn’t print it? Give me a break. You can whiz on my leg, but don’t tell me it’s raining.”
Maskless Super Bowl pictures — “How the hell am I supposed to drink beer?”
Leftists hounding DeSantis for not wearing a mask at the Super Bowl apparently barked up the wrong tree — or, whizzed on the wrong leg.
As DeSantis told Politico’s Marc Caputo, “Someone said, ‘Hey, you were at the Super Bowl without a mask’… but how the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on? Come on. I had to watch the Bucs win.”
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.