DeSantis takes his legislative wins on the road | #socialmedia



Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives his opening remarks flanked by local state delegation members prior to signing legislation that seeks to punish social media platforms that remove conservative ideas from their sites, inside Florida International University’s MARC building in Miami on Monday, May 24, 2021. | Carl Juste/Miami Herald via AP

TALLAHASSEE — Ron DeSantis’ conservative roadshow is in full swing.

The GOP-dominated Florida Legislature handed the likely 2024 presidential aspirant a wave of legislative wins during this year’s session tethered to red meat issues that motivate the conservative base. Since the session ended in late April, DeSantis has used the state plane to traverse Florida holding several high-profile bill signing ceremonies, events replete with “exclusives” given to Fox News and audiences stocked with applauding DeSantis supporters.

The latest was Monday when DeSantis traveled to Florida International University in Miami to sign legislation the state’s GOP majorities say will crack down on social media censorship. Opponents, however, have cast the measure itself as a slice of censorship aimed at appeasing former President Donald Trump, now a Florida resident who has been deplatformed from most social media sites for spreading baseless claims about his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden.

James O’Keefe, the often-sued right-wing founder of Project Veritas, which uses undercover videos to try catch Democratic or media figures in “gotcha-style” moments, was on stage when DeSantis signed the bill. The measure requires tech companies to come up with uniform guidelines for removing users, requires those to be applied uniformly, and makes it easier to sue tech companies, who are themselves expected to sue over the bill.

Mainstream reporters at the event were almost drowned out at times by applause from DeSantis’ political supporters at the event, including when one reporter asked DeSantis if the social media bill was in response to Trump being booted from most major social media sites.

“The bill is for everyday Floridians, this is what we said,” DeSantis responded when asked by a reporter if the social media crackdown bill was for Trump’s benefit. “But I do think that is another issue that has been brought to bear. When you deplatform the president of the United States, but you allow Ayatollah Khomeini to talk about killing Jews, that is wrong.”

It is typical for any governor to travel the state to hold public bill signing ceremonies after the legislative session finishes, but DeSantis’ version of that well-worn tradition has come often in front of local Republican groups. DeSantis even signed a controversial election reform legislation in West Palm Beach “exclusively” on Fox News.

Florida is “prohibiting mass mailing of balloting,” DeSantis said of something already not allowed in Florida. “We’ve had absentee voting in Florida for a long time. You request the ballot. You get it. And you mail it in. But to just indiscriminately send them out is not a recipe for success.”

DeSantis has also used bill signings to increasingly focus on critical race theory, an academic movement that looks at how laws intersect with race. It’s an idea blasted by conservatives, including petition groups who have asked DeSantis and Education Commission Richard Corcoran to “not let schools teach kids to be ashamed of their race.”

“We need the Constitution back in classrooms, we need to make sure civics is a priority, but it needs to be taught accurately,” DeSantis said last week during a Pensacola event where he signed a sweeping $160 million tax cut package. “It needs to be taught in a fact-based way, not an ideological-based way.”

DeSantis’ post-legislative session bill signing tour may not look like those taken by past governors, or even DeSantis during his first two terms, but it’s yet another signal he is attuned to the national conservative base, and more specifically Trump voters, who early 2024 polling indicate would favor the Florida governor running for the White House if Trump does not run.

His political rivals have cast DeSantis’ policy agenda as a hard right attempt to please the base ahead of 2024.

“I have no doubt that this piece of legislation was for the sole purpose of trying to ensure a reelect for him in 2022, to only run for president in 2024,” Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said earlier this month during a press conference called after DeSantis signed the election overhaul bill.

Fried has not yet officially announced a challenge to DeSantis in 2022, but as Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat, is widely expected to run. In a video released earlier this month, she signaled an announcement could come June 1.

Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, a former Republican Florida governor, is the biggest name to officially announce he is challenging DeSantis, but the field is expected to grow as Democrats look to end Desantis’ national rise.

DeSantis will likely head into his reelection as a heavy favorite. A Florida Chamber of Commerce poll released earlier this month had DeSantis’ post-pandemic approval rating at 55 percent, and he is amassing a huge political war chest, including raising $14 million in April alone. The Florida Chamber of Commerce supports DeSantis, but the numbers are consistent with public polls conducted in 2021, each of which had DeSantis’ favorability rating above 50 percent.

“Governor DeSantis’ strong approval ratings show Florida’s voters and Florida’s business community are united around his leadership in protecting Floridians and Florida’s economy,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the chamber, when the poll was released.



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