Gov. Ron DeSantis proclaimed Florida an “oasis of freedom” from coronavirus restrictions Friday as he kicked off the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando that saw violations of a local mandatory mask rule.
“We are an oasis of freedom in a nation that’s suffering in many parts of the country under the yoke of oppressive lockdowns,” DeSantis said.
“We see schools closed, businesses shuttered, and lives destroyed,” he said.
DeSantis contrasted his strategy with others left unnamed, likely meaning New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), among others.
“And while so many governors over the last year had kept locking people down, Florida lifted people up,” DeSantis said to cheers.
He argued the state is stronger and residents are “happier” because of the strategy.
“Florida got it right and the lockdown states got it wrong,” DeSantis declared, repeating his message of personal liberty that has dominated since the viral pandemic began.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) extended his order blocking local governments from enforcing mask mandates across the Sunshine State. https://t.co/6Sc6ILY4p8
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) November 25, 2020
DeSantis’s remarks were in line with the reputation he has built in recent years as a proud Trump loyalist. But the governor’s speech may also be something of an attempt to cast himself as a successor to Trump ahead of a potential 2024 presidential bid.
The governor is seeking to restore integrity to the election process by increasing transparency and oversight during ballot-counting, and increasing security for absentee ballots.
He singled out Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and said private donations will not be allowed to interfere in “the administration of our elections.”
DeSantis indicated a new Republican Party is here to stay.
“We don’t spout hollow rhetoric. We take decisive action,” he said.
“We cannot, we will not go back to the days of the failed Republican establishment of yesteryear,” he said, prompting wild cheers from the crowd.
DeSantis memorialized Rush Limbaugh.
“Rush showed that fighting the left requires strength and that conservatism devoid of backbone is doomed to fail,” he said.
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