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SALT LAKE CITY — Presidential hopeful and Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis appealed to Utah voters by comparing the Sunshine State’s economic and political record to that of Utah during a press conference with state legislators at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday.
It’s the governor’s second visit to the Beehive State this year, after he headlined the Utah Republican Party convention in April, and it comes as he continues to trail former President Donald Trump in national GOP polls. Standing in the Gold Room of the Capitol, DeSantis was flanked by 17 legislators and two mayors, many of whom have previously expressed interest in a DeSantis campaign to help revitalize the party’s prospects for the White House.
DeSantis laid out his key priorities for the presidency, including standing up to China, ensuring that federal bureaucracy is “brought to heel,” and holding agencies like the CDC accountable for what he said was the “damage” they did during the COVID-19 pandemic, but he noted that none of that is possible if Republicans lose again in 2024.
“Here’s the thing: none of this stuff matters if you don’t win the election,” he said. “And our party has developed a culture of losing over the last many cycles where we’re losing races that we should be winning. Yeah, in Utah we’re winning. Yeah, in Iowa, they’re winning. In Florida in ’22, that red wave that was supposed to happen across the country … it happened in Florida.”
He pointed to his record as governor in Florida as evidence that he can accomplish the party’s goals if he wins. Utah’s leaders have recently touted the state’s top economic outlook rating by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, and DeSantis bragged about Florida receiving top marks of any state in a recent report by CNBC.
“What we’ve been able to do in Florida is everything we said that we would do, we delivered on,” he said. “Voters are used to electing people that overpromise and underdeliver. I think that’s kind of the standard that typically happens. Now we made bold promises — we govern in bold colors, not pale pastels — but we not only answered all the promises, we exceeded our promises and what we were able to deliver for the people of Florida.”
This story will be updated.