Defiant DeSantis Touts Home State during NYC Visit

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Florida governor Ron DeSantis touted the benefits of living in Florida during a visit to New York on Sunday, in a speech to the Tikvah Fund’s Jewish Leadership Conference.

“They can’t cancel me, I’m going to speak my mind,” DeSantis said as he opened his speech. “You know, I saw that there was a little opposition to me coming here. All I can tell you is this: When the Left is having a spasm, that just tells you that in Florida we are winning.”

The conference was originally set to take place at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, a Holocaust memorial. However, the conference was relocated after the museum refused to host DeSantis because he didn’t “align with the museums’s values,” conference organizers Elliott Abrams and Eric Cohen wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. The museum denied that claim, saying in a statement that Abrams’s and Cohen’s op-ed contained “factual inaccuracies,” that “no contract with the Tikvah Fund was ever signed.” Abrams and Cohen countered that the move was “a political decision.” The conference was ultimately held on Sunday at Chelsea Pier 60 instead of at the museum.

The governor used his speech to tout Florida’s Covid-pandemic policies, including the decision not to order lockdowns, vaccine mandates, or mask mandates, and he said Floridians in general enjoyed higher levels of freedom during the pandemic. In particular, DeSantis cited the contrast with New York City’s mask mandate for preschoolers. Mayor Eric Adams announced last Thursday that the mandate for preschoolers will end Monday.

“Now I know New York for a long time, until very recently, force-masked these toddlers, which I think, quite frankly, is inhumane. And so we would never impose those policies in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.

The governor also touted opposition to “wokeness” in his state.

“We have said that the state of Florida is not going to be overrun by woke ideology. It’s just not going to happen,” DeSantis said. “I think it’s a cancer, I think it will destroy this country if it’s able to get more of a foothold than it already has.”

DeSantis also defended the passage of Florida’s parental-rights bill, which bans teaching lessons on gender identity to children in grades K–3, and subsequent moves to revoke an autonomous governing status granted to Disney for the company’s Walt Disney World complex near Orlando.

“My duty and my oath of office was to not subcontract out responsibility to a corporation based in Burbank, Calif.,” DeSantis said. “That is not going to happen, they’re not going to run this state.”

Note: The author participated in a week-long course sponsored by the Tikvah Fund in 2018.

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