“I’m very confident that the freedom in Florida is what more people would choose rather than the public defecation on the streets of San Francisco,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican presidential candidate, said at the end of an interview Friday with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Given the difference between Florida’s priorities and California’s, DeSantis said, “let the people choose what’s the better vision for the United States of America.”
In a lengthy interview with Carlson, DeSantis had that response to a question about the possibility that California Gov. Gavin Newsom ultimately would replace President Joe Biden on Democrats’ presidential ticket in 2024.
DeSantis, who sat down for an interview with Carlson in Des Moines, Iowa, during the faith-based Family Leadership Summit, answered this and other questions relating to his own presidential candidacy. Other Republican presidential candidates also fielded questions from Carlson at the event.
Reforming FBI, Bureaucracy
“What do you do about the FBI or the CIA or agencies that are heavily armed and have intel capacities you don’t have and they’re vast, how do you manage that?” Carlson asked DeSantis.
On “Day One,” DeSantis answered, he would appoint a new director of the FBI, but said that was far from enough to manage the vast administrative state.
“There are thousands of positions in the executive branch that are appointed by the president,” the Florida governor said. “You’ve got to have all those people ready to go to be submitted to the Senate in January of 2025.”
If an incoming president doesn’t have appointed staff and aides ready to go right away, DeSantis said, then “career bureaucrats” will run everything. Just as importantly, he insisted, is the need for the right personnel who won’t budge when under criticism from the Left and the media.
Finally, DeSantis said, a huge number of people in the bureaucracy can and should be outright fired or otherwise be held accountable for their actions.
Carlson mentioned that federal government officials during the COVID-19 pandemic worked with Big Tech, especially social media companies, to censor information.
“People died as a result of that, because they were censoring truthful information about COVID, that if people would have adopted those policies, the country would have been better off and states would have been better off,” DeSantis said.
He said his goal as president would be to end the “weaponization” of federal agencies under the Biden administration.
Ukraine and Border
Carlson noted that if DeSantis becomes president, he effectively would direct American foreign policy. He asked the Republican governor what he would do about the Russia-Ukraine war.
DeSantis answered first that he served in the Iraq War and the lesson he learned from his experience is that “you need a concrete idea of what you are trying to achieve.”
His current problem with U.S. policy on Ukraine policy, he said, is that leaders in Washington aren’t telling the American people “when we have achieved our objective.”
The Florida governor said he believes Russian leader Vladimir Putin is a “bad guy,” but that’s a separate question from what the United States should do on the world stage. He said the focus must be on U.S. national interests.
DeSantis, who was reelected last year in a landslide, segued into how “D.C. elites” are more focused on what’s happening in Ukraine than on what’s happening on America’s own southern border.
“I wish the D.C. elites cared as much about our border as they do the Ukraine-Russia border,” DeSantis said. “Because there’s people pouring into this country, we have people dying from fentanyl overdoses, cartels are running the show, and what I’ve said is on Day One [I’d] declare a national emergency, mobilize all resources including the military, stop the invasion.”
Culture of Life
DeSantis told Carlson said that in the last half century, with the advent of Roe v. Wade and the availability of abortion on demand, the United States allowed practices that are “barbaric,” including partial- and post-birth abortion.
He said that although “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” he would do his best with the “bully pulpit” of the presidency to aid states in advancing what he called the “cause of life.”
DeSantis said he caught a lot of flak, even from supporters and donors, on the abortion issue. He signed a “heartbeat” bill into law in April that bans abortion after an unborn baby has a detectable heartbeat.
He praised Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a fellow Republican, for signing a similar heartbeat bill Friday.
“We were able to do that in Florida, we had a lot of opposition to that in Florida, but I’m proud to have been a pro-life governor and I will be a pro-life president,” DeSantis said.
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