Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is hitting back at his California counterpart, pinning population losses on the Golden State’s “terrible governance.”
Speaking to a crowd at Cape Coral High School on Friday after issuing an executive order, DeSantis responded to a question about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent campaign ad that takes a shot at the Sunshine State.
In a July 3 video shared on Twitter, Newsom called for Floridians to move to California, a state he says still believes in “freedom.”
“When families are uprooting from the Pacific Coast to go almost 3,000 miles in search of a better life, that’s telling you something,” DeSantis said.
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“Yes, we’ve created a citadel of freedom here that has attracted people and we’re proud of it. But, let’s just be clear, California is driving people away with their terrible governance,” he added.
In May, officials announced that California’s population had decreased by more than 100,000 people in 2021, marking the second consecutive year the state has seen a population decline.
According to the state’s Department of Finance, California’s three most populous counties all experienced population loss.
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The state cited declining fertility as baby boomers age, COVID-19-related deaths, federal policies restricting immigration and an increase in people leaving the state.
Disney announced last July that it would move 2,000 employees from California to Florida, in part because of “Florida’s business-friendly climate.”
A Tuesday report in The Wall Street Journal found that Republican-led states are bouncing back from pandemic-related economic havoc faster than blue states.
“Some of the best weather in the world in southern California, they have some of the best natural advantages – probably the best natural advantages of any state in this country… And, for the entire history of California, they never lost population until this recent governor got into office,” DeSantis continued.
“And, now they’re hemorrhaging population. It’s almost hard to drive people out of a place like California, given all their natural advantages. And yet, they’re finding a way to do it,” he joked, to a laughing crowd.
Newsom’s ad claims that freedom is under attack in Republican states.
“Your Republican leaders, they’re banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors,” he said.
“I urge all of you living in Florida to join the fight. Or, join us in California where we still believe in freedom. Freedom of speech. Freedom to choose. Freedom from hate. And, the freedom to love. Don’t let them take your freedom,” Newsom asserted.
Notably, speculation has run wild regarding whether both governors – who are up for re-election – have presidential ambitions.
FOX Business’ Emma Colton and Landon Mion contributed to this report.