7 telling moments from Ron DeSantis’ 2024 Twitter launch: Hate, lies and reheated Trumpism
Ron DeSantis announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in a glitch-filled Twitter stream, which confirmed his bid for the White House is reliant on hate and culture war politics.
The Florida governor – renowned in the LGBTQ+ community for his Don’t Say Gay law and his repeated attacks on the trans community – spoke for over an hour about numerous issues, from book bans to military recruitment.
“I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback,” Ron DeSantis declared before launching into a panel discussion with Twitter CEO Elon Musk and others.
Hitting out at the “woke mob”, DeSantis said America is “going in the wrong direction” and that cities are being “allowed out by spiking crime”.
Throughout the discussion, DeSantis suggested trans people are to blame for low military recruitment and reheated a number of Trump talking points – including by promising to build a wall to keep migrants out.
Here are seven of the most telling moments from DeSantis’ launch.
Ron DeSantis hits out at the ‘woke mind virus’
DeSantis said the “woke mind virus” must be replaced with “reality, facts and enduring principles”.
“Merit must trump identity politics,” he said, adding: “We must return normalcy to our communities”.
He thinks trans people and global warming are to blame for low military recruitment
DeSantis blamed low military recruitment on the trans community and on the Biden administration. This is despite research suggest trans people are twice as likely to enlist.
The Florida governor said he wanted to “re-establish integrity in our institutions” such as the military.
He went on to hit out at the military, saying it had become more concerned with “matters not central to the mission” such as “global warming or gender ideology and pronouns”.
The result, he said, is that “moral defines and recruiting suffers”.
“You need to eliminate these distractions and you need to get focused on the core mission”.
He accused Joe Biden of letting ‘woke ideology’ drive his agenda
Sitting president Joe Biden was accused of letting “woke ideology” drive his agenda.
“We will never surrender to the woke mob and we will leave woke ideology in the dustbin of history,” DeSantis said.
Disney wants to force ‘gender ideology’ on children, says DeSantis
Ron DeSantis spoke at length about his long-running feud with Disney. The governor has insisted he won’t back down in a row over how issues like sexuality and gender identity are taught in schools.
Speaking during his Twitter launch, DeSantis said Florida “stands for the protection of children”.
“We believe jamming gender ideology in elementary school is wrong. Disney obviously opposed our parents’ rights legislation and the fact is when they opposed it that was a big deal because for 50 years any time Disney wanted something in Florida politics they pretty much got it,” he said.]
“But not this time. I signed the bill, we did, as we say, win on the issue, but what happened was Disney’s posturing, some of the other statements their exectuvis were making, kind of the corporate culture, had really been outed as trying to inject matters of sex into the programming for the youth and I think a lot of parents including me looked at that and said, that’s not appropriate.
“I mean we want our kids to be able to just be kids and that’s kind of our mantra.”
Ron DeSantis says book ban in Florida is a ‘hoax’
Echoing former president Donald Trump’s tendency to claim everything he didn’t like was “fake news”, Ron DeSantis branded talk of book bans in Florida as a “hoax”.
“There’s not been a single book banned in the state of Florida,” he said.
In Florida, books have been removed from classrooms due to complaints from parents. Amanda Gorman, the poet who recited her work at Joe Biden’s inauguration, is among those who have had their work removed from a school library.
DeSantis rejected the notion that the policy counted as a book ban, saying literature that had been removed from classrooms could still be bought in bookshops.
He said they had “empowered parents” to review the curriculum so they can decide whether the materials their kids have access to is “appropriate”.
“For example parents have flagged books in schools that for example teach middle school kids how to use sex apps, that provide graphic depictions of sex apps and sex toys for people as young as fifth grade, and so clearly that is not appropriate to be in a middle school classroom. And so parents object and the schools take them out,” he said.
DeSantis on why he ‘eliminated critical race theory’ from schools
Ron DeSantis may have pushed back against accusations that he stood over book bans, but he was happy to declare that he “eliminated” what he described as “critical race theory” from schools.
He said they had removed such materials from schools so children as young as six years old can’t say they’re an “oppressor” or that they’ve been “oppressed”.
DeSantis defended himself from criticism by saying that he has made sure the history of racial discrimination was taught in schools.
He wants to build a wall to keep ‘illegal’ migrants out
While DeSantis will be at pains to differentiate himself from his main rival – and frontrunner – for the Republican nomination, Donald Trump, he echoed one of the disgraced former president’s most notorious policies.
DeSantis has spoken about “building a wall” before, but he committed firmly to the idea during his presidential campaign launch.
He said asylum claims should not be processed when a person arrives to the US “illegally”, adding that “economic migrants” know they will be granted access to the US if they turn up at the southern border.
DeSantis spoke of building a wall to keep migrants out and promised to declare a “national emergency” on day one of his presidency on the issue of asylum seekers.
Immediately after the event, LGBTQ+ groups denounced DeSantis’ campaign as an attempt to “export extremist, anti-LGBTQ+ agenda to the nation”.
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