Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has not officially declared himself a 2024 GOP presidential primary candidate to run against former President Donald Trump, but he sure sounds like he will and he sure sounds a lot like his onetime endorser.
DeSantis, speaking before the annual Pennsylvania Leadership Conference (PLC) on Saturday in a speech that aired live and in its entirety on Newsmax, warned of the dangers of Democrats weaponizing the justice system and manipulating elections in their favor in a speech that closely resembled the candor and tone of a trademark Trump Save America rally.
"What this shows — with how the bureaucracy has been weaponized, how [George] Soros-backed prosecutors are weaponizing the law against conservatives — is that the left is playing for keeps," DeSantis said. "They want to make the citizens of this country who are conservative into second-class citizens.
"And if you look at 2024, if they can win the House and they win the White House again and maybe add a senator or two, what is their agenda going to be?
"They're going to try to pack the U.S. Supreme Court. They're going to try to abolish the Electoral College. They're going to make [Washington] D.C. a state, so that they get two Democrat senators for life. And they're going to federalize these problematic ballot processes — ballot harvesting — as well as eliminate voter ID in every corner of the United States."
DeSantis did not mention Trump by name, but his talking points hit all of the frequent Trump notes.
"This is not an agenda that is speaking to Americans over their kitchen table; this is an agenda for them to ensconce themselves in power for a generation," DeSantis continued.
"So the stakes are very high."
DeSantis hailed his work in taking Florida from a 1-point margin state and turning it deep red since first becoming governor in 2018, carrying it through the COVID-19 pandemic, and boasting the largest margin of victory for a Republican governor in state history in the 2022 midterms.
"I think what Florida shows is that if you pursue a bold agenda, if you exhibit strong leadership, you not only can take on the left, you can beat the left," DeSantis said. "And we have done that day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.
"But in this endeavor, there is no substitute for victory. The winners get to make policy. The losers go home."
As far as dismantling the deep state — DeSantis did not directly use that term oft-repeated by Trump — the Florida governor ostensibly called for draining the swamps of unelected bureaucrats, another prime Trumpism.
"You do need a determined and disciplined executive willing to systematically root out these politicized bureaucrats," DeSantis said. "You have authority and the executive has authority under our Constitution to clean house. You can take 50,000 of them, make them Schedule F, and you can subject them to termination at will. You also can go and find the people that are not doing the job and get rid of them.
"It needs to be done, because otherwise you have a situation where a Republican could win the White House and yet the left still controls the executive branch bureaucracy.
"That is not how the Founding Fathers drew it up. I can tell you that."
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