TAMPA, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Friday night tore into President Biden in his address to the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit, amid rampant speculation that he could be set to run for president in 2024.
“With Biden, you think of a guy staring into the teleprompter like a deer in the headlights,” DeSantis, a Republican, said in his speech at the conservative gathering.
“I must say he did test positive for COVID,” DeSantis added, acknowledging Biden’s positive coronavirus diagnosis this week. “And I want to on the behalf of the state of Florida wish President Biden a speedy recovery from COVID. And I also want to wish the United States of America a speedy recovery from Joe Biden.”
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The governor, widely considered the second leading contender for the GOP nomination in 2024 behind former President Donald Trump, hit Biden over inflation, energy and immigration, among other things.
“He came in and cranked the printing presses, kneecapped American energy, and he also opened our southern border,” DeSantis said. “And what we’ve seen in the last year and a half is the largest illegal migration into this country in the history of the United States of America. We have record human trafficking, we have record sex trafficking, and we have record drug trafficking.”
The governor also dove into the culture wars, which he’s fully embraced in his tenure as the state’s chief executive.
He bragged about his state’s handling of COVID-19. He touted the new Florida law that bans lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity for kids in third grade or younger. He panned other states like Oregon and Minnesota, which saw major riots in recent years. And he crowed about a law his state passed banning critical race theory in schools.
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“We make sure in Florida, we do not use our tax dollars to teach our kids to hate this country or to hate each other on the basis of race,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis, a Navy veteran, also panned “woke ideology,” saying it’s “infected,” many major organizations including the military.
“They’re more apt to be talking about pronouns than they are about winning wars,” DeSantis said
DeSantis predicted a “red wave” in 2022. But he notably did not mention Trump during the speech, as he and the former president continue to dominate the GOP political scene, neither attacking nor boosting each other in their public appearances
The governor is up for reelection in 2022, facing a yet-to-be-determined Democrat nominee. The Democrats running include Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla.
There are several other Republicans making moves that potentially foreshadow a 2024 presidential run. Among them are former Vice President Mike Pence, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and others.
But few if any of those candidates are picking up as much widespread buzz in the GOP as DeSantis, whose combative style with Democrats in the press often mirrors that of Trump himself.
Fox Nation is a sponsor of the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit.
Fox News’ Sarah Freeman contributed to this report.