Ron DeSantis Makes Waves At Republican Presidential Forum In Iowa
DES MOINES, IOWA - JULY 14: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to guests at the Family Leadership Summit on July 14, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa. Several Republican presidential candidates were scheduled to speak at the event, billed as “The Midwest’s largest gathering of Christians seeking cultural transformation in the family, Church, government, and more.”
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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis garnered strong positive reactions from a crowd at an event in Iowa on Friday who gathered to see six Republican presidential candidates sit down for interviews with Tucker Carlson.

Steve Deace, who co-hosted the analysis segments from The Blaze during the event, said that the VIPs at the event walked away saying that DeSantis was the “strongest overall candidate” at the event. DeSantis and former President Donald Trump (who skipped the forum) are the only two Republican candidates polling in the double digits.

The other candidates who spoke with Carlson at the Family Leadership Summit were former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Beyond the positive assessment about DeSantis, Deace said Ramaswamy was “considered best overall communicator” and Carlson received “rave reviews.”

The Florida governor’s interview kicked off with Carlson asking DeSantis about the pro-life bill that he recently signed in his state. DeSantis took the opportunity to praise Iowa’s popular governor Kim Reynolds for signing off on similar legislation.

“Well, I’m very proud to say Kim Reynolds is here. And she signed a great heartbeat bill today,” DeSantis said, “We were able to do that in Florida, we had a lot of opposition to that. I’m proud to have been a pro-life governor, and I will be a pro-life president. So I mean, of course, I want to sign pro-life legislation. I think it’s something that we need to develop a culture of life in this country.”

The move to praise Reynolds comes after Trump attacked her this week for her stated neutrality in the Republican Party primary even though she said early on that she did not plan on making an endorsement.

DeSantis said that he planned to use the bully pulpit as president to advance pro-life causes across the country even though some donors have threatened to pull support over the matter.

“At the end of the day, you get into office to be able to do what’s right,” he said. “If you’re here to contort yourself into a pretzel, to try to not have to take on big issues to take the political road that’s easier to travel, then you’re not somebody that’s dependable. So we stood up.”

He said that one of the most impactful things in his life was hearing the heart beat of his first child through an ultrasound procedure when his wife Casey DeSantis was pregnant. He said science and current technology could be used to win people over on the issue.

After some back-and-forth about the large amounts of people moving to Florida, Carlson asked DeSantis about his views on the war in Ukraine.

Carlson said that DeSantis had changed his views to say that the war was “central to America’s foreign policy” after he said the opposite earlier in the year.

DeSantis quickly pushed back on Carlson’s assertion, saying he did not make that point about U.S. foreign policy, and contended that he actually called attempts by the U.S. to further escalate the war a “mistake.”

He said that the goal with respect to the war in Ukraine was to “have a sustainable peace in Europe” and to not drag the U.S. further into the situation.

“The top threat to this country is China,” DeSantis said. “It’s China’s ambitions. It’s China’s industrial capacity. It’s the CCPs ability to pollute our culture, impact our universities, incidentally, in Florida, we got rid of the Confucius Institutes that they put in universities, we cracked down on them being able to [get research dollars from our] universities, and we banned any purchase of land by the CCP in the state of Florida.”

DeSantis also suggested D.C. elites care more about the Ukraine border than the U.S. southern border and posited that drug cartels are effectively in control of the border.

In another moment from the interview, DeSantis talked about how he would rein in federal bureaucracy, particularly in the intelligence community.

“With me on day one, you get a new director of the FBI, we need that. That’s going to happen,” DeSantis said. “There are thousands of positions in the executive branch that are appointed by the president, you got to have all those people ready to go to be submitted to the Senate in January of 2025. You can’t wait two years to fill all the positions, because then these could be career bureaucrats, they just take over. So you got to have your people in there on day one.”

In addition, DeSantis praised Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as a man with the type of character that he would look for in the types of people that he brings into his administration.

“I believe Article II of the Constitution means the President has the executive authority,” he said. “We just say these bureaucrats somehow can’t be held accountable, I disagree with that. I think you can fire them. If we have an FBI agent going to harass a pro-life activists like they did to Mark Houck and send a SWAT team, I’d fire them immediately. When you have the FBI colluding with big tech to censor dissent, I would fire those people. Had I been president 2020, Anthony Fauci would have been fired, and you’ve got to be willing to do it.”

Other notable clips from the interview included:

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