All-American swimmer and women's sports advocate Riley Gaines tells Newsmax she is endorsing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' bid for the GOP presidential nomination because of his role in "rooting out the radical ideology" that has led to transgendered athletes participating in female-division sports.
"I really understand the threat that we Americans are under just based off my own experience and being forced to compete and change in the locker room with a male, as well as being physically attacked by a mob for simply saying that's unfair," Gaines said Thursday night on Newsmax's "Eric Bolling The Balance."
DeSantis, she added has brought "visibility to these cultural issues that affect the breakdown of families, the breakdown of faith, the break down of freedoms. He's really taken on the political establishment, the world corporations, the media, and he's won, and we know this based on his success in Florida alone."
Gaines, a former University of Kentucky swimmer and 12-time All-American champ, has been speaking out on the issue of transgender athletes participating in female sports after competing against University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, who had competed as a man for three years before transitioning.
Thomas ended up winning the NCAA 500-yard freestyle national championship in March 2022, becoming the first openly transgender athlete to win a national NCAA title.
"The Biden administration and the people who are in charge of this country right now, the threat that they're placing on women and girls across the board, not just in sports, but women and girls systemically, that's why this next election is so important for the sake of restoring and ultimately saving America and the people who live here," Gaines told Bolling.
Gaines, meanwhile, has often appeared alongside former President Donald Trump, but when asked if she's ready for the pushback from the public for backing DeSantis, told Bolling that she wasn't ready for anything that's happened in the past year as it is.
"I feel entirely unequipped for the position I was thrust into," Gaines said. "This is never something that I could have asked for myself. That being said, I see the threat again that this country is under, and I see the importance of taking a stance on this."
However, she said she does believe she has the "understanding" and the "unwavering morals" to know endorsing DeSantis "is the right thing."
"It's the right thing for me, it's the right thing for women, and it's the right thing for Americans."
Gaines is heading to a DeSantis rally in Greenville, S.C., Friday where she will appear with South Carolina state Rep. Ashley Trantham, who has introduced the Saving Women's Sports bill.
"I will be so excited to stand alongside both of these warriors and fight for what's right," said Gaines.
She also spoke out in defense of ESPN sportscaster Samantha Ponder, who was labeled as a "bigot" by USA Today columnist Nancy Armour after supporting Gaines' stance on transgender athletes.
ESPN is continuing with its annual Pride flag-raising activities, even with the controversy over Ponder, and Gaines said she thinks that's "crazy."
"ESPN is an organization that is supposed to understand sports, and by saying men and women are physically the same when it comes to something that requires sheer strength or athleticism, they're denying their expertise," Gaines said. "They know this is wrong. They know it's immoral. They know fighting for fairness and fighting for biology is not bigotry. Yet they're choosing to take that approach."
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Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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