It was a big day for Republicans in Florida as former President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis headlined two conferences on opposing coasts Saturday evening.
The Republican Party of Florida held its Sunshine Summit this weekend at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino near Hollywood, where DeSantis was featured during an evening dinner. And Turning Point USA, an organization for conservative youth and young adults, gathered in Tampa, where Trump spoke.
Trump is eyeing a 2024 campaign for president. DeSantis is running for reelection in Florida, but is widely considered a possible 2024 contender.
DeSantis at the Hard Rock
DeSantis made opening remarks Saturday morning at the state party summit, where several congressional primary debates were held and conservative figures talked about concepts such as “Sports Go Woke and the Nation Suffers.”
Wrapping up the summit on its final day, DeSantis took the stage to a sold-out room of politicians, donors and supporters from across the state.
His speech followed U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, both of whom received applause. But nothing compared to the reception when DeSantis took the stage, entering to his campaign song “Sweet Florida.”
The speech was not livestreamed, and limited media was allowed to attend.
DeSantis’ speech hit largely on mainstays of his public appearances — he touted how Florida has “led the way on issue after issue.”
He railed against Dr. Anthony Fauci and COVID-related mandates, emphasized support for law enforcement, slammed “woke ideology” and celebrated the edge registered Florida Republicans gained over the state’s Democrats.
His speech finished by talking about the courage it takes for Republicans to stand against the left, the media and those who want to limit freedoms.
“You gotta be ready for battle, so put on the full armor of God, take a stand against the left’s schemes, stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,” DeSantis said. “You will face fire from flaming arrows but the shield of faith will protect you and ultimately keep the state of Florida free.”
Trump delivers speech in Tampa
Over in Tampa, Trump spoke at Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit, a three-day event for conservative youth that drew Republican politicians and pundits from around the country.
In a roughly 90-minute speech that meandered through presidential anecdotes, falsehoods about the 2020 election and other talking points, Trump painted the U.S. as a nation out of control, run by leftists that are both Machiavellian and inept.
“We are a nation that in many ways has become a joke,” he said. He ridiculed climate activists, said “marxist teachers” are brainwashing public school students and continued to call the press “the enemy of the people.” He also mocked the congressional committee investigating his role in the attack last year on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.
“If I announce I was not going to run for office the persecution of Donald Trump would immediately stop,” Trump asserted. “But that’s what they want me to do and you know what? There’s just no chance I do that.”
The crowd chanted “four more years.”