GOP Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis paid a trip to California on Sunday — and took the opportunity to knock Gov. Gavin Newsom on the Democrat’s home turf.
DeSantis, who is reportedly eying a run for the White House, ripped Newsom for his state’s recent population decline as the Sunshine State continues to gain residents.
“I knew you guys got a lot of problems out here, but your governor is very concerned about what we’re doing in Florida, so I figured I had to come by,” DeSantis quipped as he began a speech he delivered at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley to promote his new book, according to Fox News.
The GOPer said the past four years have served as a litmus test for the country’s different political ideologies.
“And if you look over the last four years, we’ve witnessed a great American exodus from states governed by leftist politicians imposing leftist ideology and delivering poor results, and you’ve seen massive gains in states like Florida, who are governing according to the tried and true principles that President Reagan held dear,” DeSantis said.
The Florida gov said times are changing for California, which saw people moving to the state from across the country throughout history. Now, he said, the opposite is true.
“From the beginning of this state’s history, all the way until the last four or five years, people beat a path to California,” he said. “You didn’t beat a path away from California. And yet now, you see the state hemorrhaging population.”
California’s population declined by more than 500,000 people from April 2020 to July 2022, with many residents moving to other states, according to US Census data.
The state’s lack of affordable housing is partially to blame for the mass exodus, according to experts and data.
DeSantis blamed Democrats such as Newsom and their governance for the decline. Democratic states such as New York, Illinois and Louisiana also have experienced population dips.
The Florida pol called California a “biomedical security state” because of its strict coronavirus pandemic restrictions, while Florida was much more lax in requiring measures used to protect against the infectious virus.
People moved from the West Coast to Florida for the freedom it gave to residents during the pandemic, DeSantis claimed.
“I can tell you, we had families move from the Pacific coast just for the fact that we had schools open in Florida when you didn’t have them open in many other states,” he said.
Florida also banned vaccine passports that required proof of vaccination to patron different businesses.
“We said that’s none of their business. Everyone has a right to participate in society,” DeSantis said. “That’s a personal choice that you make whether to take that or not, and we’re not going to let you be excluded.”
As a result, the Republican said, Florida experienced an increase in visitors from other states.
“Now, what ended up happening because we did that, one of the things that ended up happening was in 2021, Florida set a record for domestic tourism,” he said. “If you compare the change in tourism in California from 2019 to 2021, California tourism declined by 22%.”
DeSantis has repeatedly touted Florida as a blueprint for the rest of America, arguing that his governing style has led the state to great success. He makes the argument in his recently released book “The Courage to Be Free,” which he was promoting at the California library.
But not all Americans believe DeSantis would steer the country in the right direction.
Ahead of his speech, critics of the Florida governor graffitied “Ron DeFascist” on the library’s entrance signs, police told the local station KTLA.
Library staffers were able to scrub the message away before the event.