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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday faced down a heckler at a campaign event in South Carolina, who accused him of running a ‘police state,’ before adapting one of Winston Churchill’s most famous speeches for his ‘war on woke.’
DeSantis arrived in the Palmetto State after stops in Iowa and New Hampshire earlier in the week.
He used his stump speech to deliver a 30-minute attack on frontrunner Donald Trump, without ever using his name, promising that ‘focus’ not ‘entertainment’ would help him get the job done.
But he was momentarily stopped in his tracks at a rally in rural South Carolina when a female heckler interrupted just as he was describing what he said was ‘bad stuff’ and ‘pornography’ getting into schools.
She could be heard accusing him of interfering in healthcare for children and of imposing a ‘police state.’
Ron DeSantis arrived in South Carolina on Friday as he continued his tour of early states. The biggest cheer in Gilbert came as he faced down a heckler who accused him of a ‘police state’
After the speech, he sat down with his wife Casey, as she described her work and what is what like having a young family in Florida’s governor’s mansion
As she was hustled out of the barn by security guards, he responded, saying: ‘We’re not gonna let you impose an agenda on our kids. We’re gonna stand up for our kids.’
It brought the biggest cheers of the speech before about 500 supporters and the DeSantis-curious.
The rest of the speech included a greatest hits list of his achievements while in office.
And it contained not-so-subtle digs at Trump, describing how ‘focus’ was the key to getting work done in office rather than short-term decision making.
‘Leadership is not about entertainment. It’s not about brand building. It’s not about virtue signalling,’ he said.
‘Leadership is about producing results for the people that you represent.’
DeSantis also deployed one of Winston Churchill’s most famous turns of phrase as he talked about his commitment to the ‘war on woke.’
‘We will fight the woke in the schools; we will fight the woke in the corporations; we will fight the woke in the halls of Congress,’ he said in an echo of Churchill’s World War II speech.
‘We will never ever surrender to the woke mob.’
DeSantis signed books, posed for selfies and chatted with attendees after the event
About 500 people heard him speak at The Grove, a wedding venue outside Columbia. Some were supporters, others merely ‘DeSantis curious’ as they weigh who to support
DeSantis was on a three-stop swing through the early primary state. But he arrived after receiving news that he has lost ground to Trump since entering the race.
A new poll shows the former president increased his lead over DeSantis by eight points since early May.
The data will be a blow to DeSantis, who last week used an online interview with Twitter owner Elon Musk to enter the race. But glitches on Twitter Spaces meant the event was late starting and listeners were repeatedly kicked out of the feed.
A Yahoo News/YouGov of 1,520 adults found that Trump had increased his share of support from 48 percent in early May to 53 percent.
DeSantis’s share dropped from 28 percent to 25 percent, giving the former president a lead of 28 percent.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been touring the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina this week, but a new poll shows he has lost ground to Donald Trump
A new poll shows DeSantis has lost ground to frontrunner Trump in the past month, despite launching his campaign last week. He now trails by 28 points, compared with 20 in early May
However, only 13 percent said the botched launch gave them an ‘unfavorable’ impression.
Even so, the data will pose a headache for the DeSantis campaign which is hammering the message that the Florida governor is more electable than Trump.
Against that backdrop, DeSantis will hold three events in South Carolina on Friday, following swings through New Hampshire and Iowa — three of the most important states in the primary race.
His Never Back Down super PAC is stepping up activity in the Palmetto State to coincide with the visit. Canvassers will be knocking on doors at the weekend and the group has a string of endorsements to roll out in the coming days, according to a source familiar with the plans.
Analysts say all is not lost at this early stage, and say DeSantis still has a path to winning the Republican nomination.
James Johnson, co-founder of pollsters JL Partners, said his firm’s data suggested that Trump’s commanding might turn out to be soft in the weeks ahead.
So although his poll found DeSantis was behind by 15 points in Iowa and 33 points back in New Hampshire, almost half of Trump supporters said the Florida governor was their second pick.
And they used the same word to describe him – ‘strong’ – as they used for the former president.
Casey took the stage alongside her husband at his first South Carolina campaign stop
Trump appeared Thursday night in a Fox News townhall and used it to beat up on his rivals
‘Trump voters are not using the same insults that he is using at the rallies,’ he said.
‘Trump has so far failed to define DeSantis negatively in Republican primary voters’ minds.’
In addition, he beats Trump on the three most important issues for Republican voters in New Hampshire: ‘Can beat Joe Biden in an election,’ ‘Is competent,’ and ‘Stands up to woke values.’
‘That is quite unique for a poll in which the other candidate has such a big lead,’ said Johnson.
Even so, Trump on Thursday night said he thought DeSantis would disappear out of sight soon.
‘You know, I really go after the one who is second and I think the one who is second has gone down so much and so rapidly that I don’t think he’s going to be second that much longer. I think he’s going to be third or fourth,’ Trump told Sean Hannity in a Fox News townhall.
The two spent the say jabbing at each other.
Trump used his time in Iowa to push back against DeSantis’s argument that he can serve two terms to push through his agenda, while his opponent would be limited to only one more.
‘Who the hell wants to wait eight years?’ said Trump, insisting he only needed six months to unravel President Joe Biden’s policies.
For his part, DeSantis said Trump already had one go at fixing the nation’s problems.
He asked: ‘Why didn’t he do it in his first four years?’