Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took his fight against liberalism deep into Democratic territory in California on Sunday, as he lays the groundwork for an expected White House bid.
DeSantis, a Republican, has been meeting with wealthy donors in recent days as part of a road show to burnish his national credentials.
He appeared at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley Sunday, ahead of an Orange County stop that includes an evening fundraising reception and dinner at the Westin Anaheim Resort.
In a series of speeches boasting about his achievements in Florida, he also has lambasted the “woke ideology” of leaders in Democratic strongholds including California and New York.
The governor, who is expected to announce a presidential run in the next few months, has made a war on liberalism a central theme of his governorship as a way to appeal to the Republican base.
While he has not yet announced a White House bid, one candidate who has – former Republican President Donald Trump – clearly views DeSantis as a potential threat.
Trump already has launched personal and political attacks on DeSantis as the race for the Republican Party’s 2024 White House nomination kicks into gear.
DeSantis, speaking at the Reagan library, made a veiled reference to the chaos of Trump’s presidency and his defeat to Democratic President Joe Biden in 2020.
“You don’t see drama and palace intrigue,” DeSantis said of his governorship in Florida. “You see surgical precision and execution.”
DeSantis, who narrowly won election to the governor’s mansion in 2018, touted his landslide re-election in November.
He attacked Democratic governors and leaders as being infected with a “woke-mind virus.” The term “woke” has become shorthand among opponents as left-wing ideology run amok.
He decried their policies on taxes, vaccine mandates and classroom “indoctrination.”
DeSantis also took aim at the Walt Disney Co., which opposes a Florida law that restricts classroom instruction of 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 it to operate with a high degree of autonomy.
“There’s a new sheriff in town,” DeSantis declared, referring to what he has called the end of Disney’s “corporate kingdom.”
The Orange County appearance will take place at a resort across the street from Disneyland, the entertainment giant’s West Coast theme park.
“The Republican Party of Orange County is incredibly honored that Gov. DeSantis chose to headline our annual fundraising event,” Orange County Republican Party Chairman Fred Whitaker said. “It was sold out in no time with 900 people and over $740,000 raised so far. It shows the tremendous interest in the governor’s successful leadership model for his state and the nation.”
Other candidates expected to jump into the Republican primary race 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.
– Staff and wire reports