SIMI VALLEY, California, March 5 (Reuters) – Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis took his fight against liberalism deep into Democratic California territory on Sunday, as part of a nationwide tour as he prepares for the ground for an expected bid for the White House.
DeSantis has met with wealthy donors in recent days and shined his national credentials in a series of speeches touting his accomplishments in Florida while lambasting the “woke ideology” of leaders in Democratic strongholds including California and New York.
DeSantis, who is expected to announce a presidential race in the coming months, has made the war on liberalism a central theme of his governorship and a way to appeal to the Republican base.
Although he has yet to announce a White House bid, one candidate who has — former Republican President Donald Trump — clearly sees DeSantis as a major potential threat as the Republican nominating contest gets underway. Trump has already launched personal and political attacks on DeSantis as the race for the Republican Party’s 2024 White House nomination begins to heat up.
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DeSantis, speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library about 80 miles north of Los Angeles, made a veiled reference to the chaos of Trump’s presidency and his loss to Democratic President Joe Biden in 2020.
“You don’t see palace drama and intrigue,” DeSantis said of his Florida governorship. “You see the surgical precision and execution.”
DeSantis, who narrowly won the gubernatorial mansion election in 2018, touted his landslide re-election in November.
He attacked Democratic governors and leaders as being infected with a “wake-mind virus.” The term “woke” has become shorthand among naysayers as left-wing ideology runs wild.
He denounced their policies on taxation, vaccination mandates and “indoctrination” in the classroom.
DeSantis also took aim at the Walt Disney Co , which opposes a Florida law that restricts classroom teaching about gender and sexual orientation.
Last month, he signed a bill that takes control of a special tax district surrounding Walt Disney World that for half a century allowed him to operate with a high degree of autonomy.
“There’s a new sheriff in town,” DeSantis said, referring to what he called the end of Disney’s “corporate kingdom.”
Other candidates expected to race in the Republican primaries include former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Nikki Haley, Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations, declared her candidacy last month.
Reporting by Tim Reid; Editing by Richard Chang
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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