BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. (WFLA) — While speaking about environmental protection strategies for his second term as governor, Ron DeSantis thanked his supporters and discussed his family time during the holidays and leading into his second inauguration.
DeSantis joked that he hoped everyone had a good holiday, saying that with three young children, he had not rested but the kids had behaved well during the inauguration.
“Two is tough, we knew that, but six and four, but they behaved very well, so the next day my wife and I took them to get some toys to thank them for being so nice,” DeSantis said. “But you know the thing is, they get all these toys, and this wasn’t true, I don’t think when I was a kid, but a lot of this stuff was made in China, and a lot of it breaks, it’s cheap stuff. I’m just thinking to myself, ok you get it from China because it’s cheaper to pay, but if it doesn’t last a week what difference does it make?”
Continuing, DeSantis said, “Santa Claus may need to not do Chinese toys,” saying to make toys in America, “honestly anywhere but not China. It’s really frustrating. We’re thankful for everybody” who came in for the inauguration in Tallahassee. Then he took a few questions.
Responding to a question about the conservation effort, DeSantis said they “need to leave Florida to God better than we found it,” saying that doing so would also be an economic boon through the resultant tourism. “That’s just the lifeblood of our state’s DNA. So it’s the right thing to do but it also reinforces our economic objectives.”
DeSantis said business policy in Florida led to a budget surplus, then highlighted the recently enacted toll relief program, the promised bonuses for teachers and law enforcement, and tax relief efforts.
“All of that is because the state has been managed well, you have good fiscal stewardship, and we have this surplus,” DeSantis said. “So you’re able to do a bunch of different things. I think it’s about what you prioritize, I know other people have done stuff in the past.”
DeSantis went on to discuss the resignation of Manny Diaz, the chair of the Florida Democratic Party.
“We’ve really taken the bull by the horns to go forward. As far as the resignation of the other party’s chairman, there ain’t as many Democrats around in the state of Florida, and we had something to do with that in November 2022,” DeSantis said. “And for the first time in 150 years that there’s not a single Democrat in statewide office in the state of Florida.”
He said it hadn’t happened since Reconstruction, calling it the first time in the modern era, and that knee-jerk reactions to things he does was just playing to “the woke choir,” and that the Democratic Party was in need of course correction.
Answering a question about emergency response, DeSantis said the state was working with the federal government, but the state was diving in where things were needed. He highlighted state efforts to rebuild and reopen after two hurricanes as an example of state progress, saying that federal response just took longer.
In terms of the property insurance market, DeSantis said Florida was now in line with most other states as far as litigation standards and consumer protections, which recent legislation passed during a special session changed.
“I think those negative incentives were addressed in that bill, there was also an effort to provide an availability for buying reinsurance coverage because that market is in flux, not just in Florida but all around the world,” DeSantis said, noting that companies had been “chased out of Florida” since 2006. He also said having the worst inflation in 40 years made repairs more difficult as costs escalate.
Turning to questions about Florida’s economy and China, DeSantis said the Chinese Communist Party had been “gobbling up land” and that they had been active in the Western Hemisphere with investments and wielding authority.
Speaking about Xi Jinping, president of the CCP, DeSantis said he’d “taken a much more Marxist, Leninist turn since he’s been ruling China,” and that not only did he not want China to buy farmland in the U.S., but not buying residential properties either.
“Obviously if someone comes in and buys, it’s not the CCP that’s signing this, these are holding companies and all that,” DeSantis said. “But yes, we do not need to have CCP influence in Florida’s economy,” noting that Florida had banned the Confucius Institute from Florida colleges and universities to avoid its influence, and that there needed to be a structure to block it.
“They’ve used those Confucius Institutes across the country to bring propaganda, as if universities don’t have enough problems already,” DeSantis said. “We’ve also done things to limit their ability to fund research in our universities, I think we’re going to go further than that, the legislature only went so far a couple of years ago. I think there’s an appetite to do even more,” saying that their influence was “insidious” and mentioning how Disney and other entertainment companies and even Wall Street would change things and policies to placate the CCP.
“It’s a larger issue. It’s just one, I think we’re a big fish now, I think we have the 13th biggest economy in the world, if we were our own country in Florida, you know, we’re a force to be reckoned with,” DeSantis said. He said that the U.S. was too intertwined with China economically, and that it would hurt the U.S. if that remained in effect. “It hurts our economy and it hurts our security.”
DeSantis mentioned environmental, social governance policies and a proposal to “nix gas stoves” as Biden administration initiatives and concepts which were “weakening Western society, Western values,” but that the CCP was the underlying concern and that Xi was the one behind the curtain.