Gov. Ron DeSantis held a meet and greet event in Council Bluffs on Tuesday. DeSantis was coming off a largely successful debate night in Tuscaloosa, Alabama but is still struggling in the polls across the board, even in his home state of Florida.
The event was held at Lincoln’s Pub on West Broadway. Small bars along this downtown corridor of Council Bluffs, which have a capacity much smaller than an event center, have routinely hosted presidential candidates struggling in the polls. Eight years earlier, this same venue (when it was “Dixie Quicks”) had a similar event with Carly Fiorina. In May, DeSantis brought around 300 people to the Grass Barn in Council Bluffs. This time, the crowd was around 125 to 150.
DeSantis has in-roads in the Iowa GOP, however. He was endorsed by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds in November, and his event on Tuesday was kicked off by Iowa House Majority Leader Matt W. Windschitl. He described DeSantis as, “the right person at the time time to lead not only our country but the free world.”
DeSantis was joined by his wife Casey, who introduced him on stage. Florida’s first lady highlighted DeSantis’ stance on social issues, particularly sex change treatments for minors.
“He is the only one standing up to protect the rights of parents and defend the innocence of our children,” Mrs. DeSantis said. “There’s a friend of ours, Chloe Cole, who did this [sex change treatment] when she was 12. She regrets it now. She doesn’t know that she’s going to be able to have children.”
DeSantis highlighted his record in the context of winning fights opponents in his state on a variety of issues. “We beat the teachers unions on school choice, we beat Fauci on Covid, we beat Soros on crime by removing the Soros-funded prosecutors,” DeSantis said. “We beat the Democrat Party on election security and election Integrity. We beat the open borders people on illegal immigration, banning sanctuary cities and even transporting illegal aliens to sanctuary jurisdictions like Martha’s Vineyard.”
DeSantis then highlighted a series of issues he promised to execute on “day one.”
- Declare the southern border a National Emergency
- Build a border wall, paid for with fees on monetary remittances back to Mexico
- Designate the Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations
- Reverse “Biden’s Green New Deal” and open up energy for production
- Revoke rules, regulations, and executive orders related to “Bidenomics”
- Take the “woke,” social experimentation, and politics out of the US military
- “Clean house” in agencies that “hurt this country during Dovid” like the CDC, NIH, and the FDA, as well as “agencies that have been weaponized” such as the DOJ, FBI, and IRS.
DeSantis had a 35-minute Q&A with guests after his stump speech. The first question was on inflation and the budget deficit, to which DeSantis said, “We need a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. We need term limits for members of Congress. We need a line item veto for the president of the United States.”
The next guest asked about winning against the Democrat “voting machine.”
“I don’t like some of these states that have early voting for 30 days,” DeSantis said. “But if they have it, don’t tell people to wait till election day. Tell your folks to get their votes in.”
The third question came from me, citing a quote from Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin, who allegedly said that if the United States doesn’t continue to fund the war in Ukraine, “we’ll send your uncles cousins and Sons to fight Russia.”
DeSantis responded, “We need to focus on the American people and defending this country, and you do that through peace through strength. But to send send troops over there? That’s a total non-starter.”
Another guest asked about DeSantis’ pro-life stance. “California takes taxpayers and they fund abortions all the way to the moment of birth. That’s wrong,” DeSantis said. “But I also recognize that with a 50-state country, you are going to have some states go in a different direction.”
The next guest asked what DeSantis planned to do with illegal immigrants already in the United States. “We’re going to do deportations for people that are here illegally, and we’ll initially on the 8 million that have come in under Biden,” DeSantis said.
The next question was how DeSantis planned to unify the party. “When I became Governor, there were 300,000 more registered Democrats in Florida than Republicans,” DeSantis said. “Today we have close to 700,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats.”
An elderly guest asked about ending money to countries “that hate us.” “The United Nations is a total farce,” DeSantis responded. “They couldn’t even condemn the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel. They have countries like Iran on the Human Rights Council. Your tax dollars should not go to fund the United Nations.”
Other guests asked about social security, support for police officers, Supreme Court picks, and agriculture. Ron and Casey DeSantis stayed to meet and greet guests briefly afterward, and guests were invited to sign their names on the DeSantis tour bus outside before it left.
The Iowa Caucuses are on January 15, 2024.