GARDENERVILLE, Nevada (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday condemned Walt Disney World and the US Department of Justice — not its main Republican challenger Donald Trump — as he courted Nevada Republicans at Trump’s heart.
The Republican governor said the United States is “off the rails.” “Madness reigns.”
In addressing Nevada Republicans for the first time as a presidential candidate, DeSantis did not directly mention Trump’s federal indictment.who faces dozens of criminal charges for mishandling classified documents.
“We’re going to end the arming of the government once and for all,” said DeSantis, wearing a strapless short-sleeved platform shirt adorned with hay bales and bull horns.
The remarks come as a crowded 2024 Republican presidential term grapples with how to respond to Trump’s latest indictment. While some Republicans have expressed serious concerns about the charges, DeSantis has largely ignored the situation, only addressing it broadly by attacking the Justice Department.
Looking at Trump in the multiple polls, it’s unclear whether DeSantis can catch Trump to avoid one of the issues dominating the race.
The controversy was brewing when DeSantis summoned more than 2,000 governors, including many Trump loyalists, who had gathered for the annual Basque Fry festival under the blazing sun on a ranch in western Nevada.
DeSantis’ team believes he is uniquely positioned to compete with Trump in Nevada, one of the first four states to hold presidential primaries early next year.
In addition to issues like “War on Wake,” DeSantis also hopes to benefit from a close personal relationship with a top Republican leader. Adam Laxalt, the former state attorney general and host of Saturday’s rally, was DeSantis’ roommate during Navy officer training and remains a longtime friend. Despite serving as Trump’s boss in Nevada in the 2020 election, Laxalt has already lined up behind the Florida governor to take over as chair of DeSantis’ National Super PAC.
“I think Governor DeSantis is the only person in America who can win the primaries and the general and be a conservative warrior for all of us,” Laxalt said in his introduction to DeSantis.
Despite his optimism, it was not clear on Saturday how many Republican voters in the swing state were convinced to abandon Trump. There was a little polite applause as early speakers attempted to pass DeSantis as the top prospect in the Republican Party for 2024.
Don Vaught, a Republican voter from Sparks, Nevada, said he would only support DeSantis in the upcoming primary if Trump was not on the ballot.
“Trump is the only person who can come in and make things right,” Vaught insisted. “I’m sick of his mouth, but I’ll tell you what: he’s a warrior. He’ll fight. That’s what we need.”
Once on stage, DeSantis increased his desire to fight all political naysayers, especially Disney.
He told his Nevada audience that the children’s entertainment giant “supports the sexualization of minors.”
The spat between the Florida governor and the Florida entertainment giant began last year after the company, under intense pressure, publicly opposed legislation related to its sexual orientation and sexual orientation chapters. Gender Identity in The Early Years was dubbed by critics “Don’t Say Like Me”. . »
As punishment, DeSantis takes over Disney World Through legislation legislators endorsed and appointed a new oversight board.
DeSantis has spoken publicly at the annual Laxalt Basque Feast, a barbecue-style event hosted by the grandfather of the former Nevada attorney general, U.S. Senator Paul Laxalt, the son of a Basque shepherd.
In recent years, the event has become a major landmark in the GOP presidential district, attracting rising stars hoping to boost their White House ambitions and wow voters with a sampling of local delicacies. Unlike the pork chops and butter carvings at the Iowa State Fair, Basque Fry fare includes beans, chorizo, and the event’s signature fried lamb testicles.
DeSantis spent most of the afternoon in a large barn with VIPs and event sponsors before taking the stage. His wife, Casey, chatted with the attendants outside the barn after her children played on the inflatable bull.
Carlin Ryder, who is retiring from Carson City, said she is leaning toward DeSantis over Trump. She said she was particularly troubled by allegations against Trump that federal prosecutors made last week. The former president has been indicted on 37 counts — many under the Espionage Act — accusing him of illegally storing classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago, Florida home and attempting to hide them from investigators who demanded their return.
“He’s done a lot of things he shouldn’t have done,” Ryder said of Trump. Trump has lived his day. I like DeSantis a little better. »