DeSantis hits back against Newsom's attacks: 'People vote with their feet'

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hit back against attacks from California Gov. Gavin Newsom during an interview on “The Guy Benson Show” on Fox News Radio Tuesday.

In an interview January with Yahoo! News, Newsom slammed DeSantis over his COVID leadership, and opposition to progressive ideologies in K-12 public schools. 

On Tuesday, host Guy Benson asked DeSantis what he thought about the Democrat governor going out of his way “to come after you.”

“He said that you’re a performance artist. He said, ‘I do not look for inspiration to that particular governor, not on the pandemic, not on other policy including the absurdity that was his woke initiative and the laughability around stopping something that doesn’t exist, Critical Race Theory,'” the Fox News Radio host noted, adding, “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he’s attacking you.” 

Photos of Govs Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis 
(Getty Images)

But DeSantis argued actions speak louder than words. 

“Well, first I would say how many people are moving from his state, fleeing to come to mine for freedom versus vice-versa? And I guarantee you we win in the net — in migration, people are leaving California in numbers we’ve never seen because of his failed policies,” he argued.

DeSantis also had an answer to Newsom’s COVID criticism, saying deaths due to the virus were on-par with California’s when age-adjusted. However, he said, California had a higher percentage of “excess mortality” since COVID started because of Newsom’s stricter policies.

“However, this is where I think his leadership has been terrible. If you look at excess mortality, California’s had a higher percentage of excess mortality since COVID started than Florida — so that includes COVID, but it’s not limited,” DeSantis said.

Characterizing these as “lockdown deaths,” the Florida governor didn’t mince words.

“Those are deaths that his policies have caused, driving people to despair, drug addiction, lack of opportunities,” he said.

Crime is also an apparent big reason for the mass exodus from California in recent years. A new poll found the majority of Californians say Newsom was doing a “poor” or “very poor” job on handling crime. In September, Newsom survived a recall effort by voters unhappy about his leadership.

California Governor Gavin Newsom makes an appearance after the polls close on the recall election, at the California Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento, California, U.S., September 14, 2021.
(REUTERS/Fred Greaves)

Benson and DeSantis also noted how, despite complaining about Florida, many Democrats end up moving there or hosting events in the less restrictive state.

“The DGA, the Democratic Governors’ Association, had their event here,” Benson noted. 

DeSantis agreed, saying, “[P]eople vote with their feet.”

“Yes there’s a lot of Californians who like what we’re doing who are coming, but even the ones that posture against Florida typically find their way here,” the governor stated.

DeSantis added that fighting the teachers unions to reopen schools in the summer of 2020 was “ultimately” one of his most consequential leadership decisions. Florida has been ahead of the curve in lifting COVID restrictions compared to California.

California’s Newsom just recently dropped the state’s requirement for masking in schools last month, while DeSantis signed an executive order dropping that requirement from public schools, last summer.


The Florida governor also addressed his battles with the Biden administration over mask mandates. DeSantis announced Tuesday that Florida and 20 other states were suing the Biden administration over the federal mask mandate on public transportation.

Calling the federal mandates – which are set to expire in April – irrational, DeSantis touted how his administration has pushed back against “Biden’s overreach on all fronts.”

“You know, not just this, the vax mandates, the border, all those things. And I think that’s what people want to see. Because I think Biden is really out of control. He’s clearly not in command of the White House,” he said.

Benson noted how DeSantis has been a target of the national media and even the White House.

“My conclusion is they see you as a threat to their power. Are they right to see you as a threat nationally?” he asked.


DeSantis told Benson the contrast between his leadership and Biden’s was plain as day. 

“I mean the contrast between a doddering, quasi-senile president who has to have his press team clean up his remarks after every time he opens his mouth versus somebody like me who’s out there — I’m very direct, I say what I mean, I mean what I say, I lead and I get things done.You know, they understand that people view Florida as really being the leader of our country in many respects” he said.

The governor also mocked the media for continuing to attack him and expecting him to just “roll over.”

“But I absolutely think from the time COVID hit, I think the media wanted — they wanted to use it to defeat Trump in 2020,” he stated. “But they’ve tried to use it against me in any way they can. And then now that we’re on to other issues, they’re always trying to find a way to attack me and attack Florida. And I do think it’s because I’m able to expose them, I’m able to show people that the emperor has no clothes, and they’re not used to that. I mean, they’re used to Republicans that will roll over for the left, and I just don’t do that. I stand by ground.”

Mainstream media outlets have adopted Democrat attack lines when reporting on DeSantis. The New York Times even had to issue a correction this week, for their false reporting on Florida’s anti-critical race theory bill. President Biden also labeled Florida’s parental rights bill “hateful.”


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