Ron DeSantis throws shade at Trump and Biden in Iowa speeches

DAVENPORT, Iowa – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis anticipated a likely line of attack against both Pres. Joe Biden and the former president Donald Trump on Friday, deriding the federal response to Covid 19 here in the first presidential caucus state in the nation.

“We were right, they were wrong,” DeSantis boasted during what was a stump speech before about 700 people in a spacious ballroom at the Rhythm City Casino Resort. In particular, he took aim at Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who worked under both presidents as a top adviser on Covid and retired at the end of the 2022.

“We refuse to let our state descend into some sort of Faucian dystopia,” DeSantis said.

Speeches almost identical to Friday’s events in Davenport and Des Moines were at the unofficial launch of DeSantis’ presidential campaign in the first caucus state in the nation. His remarks — his first as a presumptive candidate in Iowa — also included a familiar series of attacks on progressives on issues such as immigration, education and gender identity, reiterating his vision that his state is “where the awakened goes to die.”

Those servings of red meat were delivered like the Des Moines Register posted a poll showing that Iowa Republicans were both supportive of Trump and open to other GOP candidates in 2024. In three days, Iowans will get their first taste of Trump since he. announced his candidacy in November.

The former president and hope of 2024 planned to hold a demonstration in Davenport and spread the education plan of his platform, giving it to the voters there. a split-screen view to the top two Republican contenders on both sides of the weekend.

DeSantis followed his roughly 30-minute speeches with brief onstage question-and-answer sessions with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, and took selfies and signed copies of his new book for voters. Reynolds, a fellow Republican who has not endorsed a 2024 presidential candidate, plans to share a stage with Trump on Monday.

DeSantis is not expected to formally launch a campaign until June at the earliest, but polls show him standing out as Trump’s strongest early challenger nationwide and in this state.

Several voters who spoke with NBC News at DeSantis events said they like Trump but are open to alternatives, including the Florida governor.

Kerri Baumer, a 42-year-old mother of two from Davenport, described herself as a “big Trump supporter” but attended the event because she is open to other candidates.

“Part of it is that everybody knows Trump can do it, but Trump needs to learn when to keep his mouth shut,” Baumer said. “So people really shy away from it because they’re nervous about what it’s going to say versus what it’s going to do for us.”

Denise Gross-Ploehn, a 53-year-old hairdresser from Davenport, said she is impressed by DeSantis’ work as Florida governor.

“I’m also a Trump supporter, but I’m open,” he said. “I think there will be a lot of great Republican candidates running for president.”

Trump took aim at DeSantis on the Truth Social media platform on Friday.

“No other president was PRO FARMER like me,” Trump wrote. “Tell Ron DeSanctimonious when he shows up at your door, hat in hand. Tell him to go home!”

Later, pointing to the issues he’s pushing as a contrast to DeSantis, Trump wrote: “Very small crowd for Ron DeSanctimonious in Iowa. He’s against Farmers, Social Security and Medicare, so why do people shows up – out of fake stories from the Fake. News!”

“DeSanctimonious” is one of several nicknames Trump has used for the Florida governor.

At times, DeSantis has echoed Trump’s policies. For example, he said that a wall should be built on the US border with Mexico – a major issue for Trump in the 2016 election and throughout his presidency – and proposed that he would send workers of Florida’s construction on the border if Biden would allow it.

“I’ll build the wall myself,” he said in Des Moines.

DeSantis, who met with Iowa lawmakers between speeches, focused most of his public remarks on themes outlined in his No. 1 New York Times bestseller “The Courage to Be Free “. Copies of the book – part memoir, part political tract – were distributed to participants at the entrance to both events.

DeSantis drew frequent applause when he went after Democrats and the media.

“We will never, ever surrender to the awakened mob,” he said in Davenport.

This article was originally published in

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