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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis: "We are going to take our freedom back!" in address to Republican Jewish Coalition conference

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during the Republican
Jewish Coalition's annual leadership meeting at
The Venetian on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Las Vegas. 
(Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis  pointed out his support for Israel and his accomplishments as governor of Florida, including banning ballot-harvesting, and his support for Israel  and Zionists in addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, November 6, 2021.

Speech video transcription: GOV. DeSANTIS: "Well, good morning! I'm proud to be the governor of the freest state in these United States, the state of Florida. Over the last year and a half in Florida, we said very clearly we don't lock people down, we lift people up!

We will protect people's right to work. We'll protect businesses' right to operate. And we will make sure that every child in Florida has a right to be in school in person. We have done that. And the result is Florida is booming like never before.

Transcription: "We reject a Faucian dystopia in which people's freedoms are curtailed and their lives are destroyed from bureaucratic edicts by people like Fauci who do not care about your hopes, dreams and aspirations. We have the lowest tax burden in the United States of America, per capita. [applause] And we spend very wisely, the state that's closest to us in population is the state of New York. Florida has about three million more people than New York does. And yet New York's budget is over twice the size of the state of Florida's budget. Do they have better infrastructure? Better roads? No. Not better education. Florida K-12, latest achievement rankings by education week puts Florida number three in the entire country!

And we have the number -- [applause] and we have the number 1 ranked, public university system - five years running by U.S. News and World Report. 

In September, the United States reported 194,000 new jobs. Florida's share of that September jobs report was 84,500 jobs. And in August of 2021, the last month we have full data on, our revenue from hotels was 11% higher than August of 2019 before covid even happened. And the rest of the country was down by 5%. And so we're -- we're proud of the progress. (Continues)

Because freedom works! Since I became governor, I basically said I'm going to run. I'm going to do certain things. Hold me to those promises. And so not only have we said what we're going to do, we have delivered time and time again for the people of Florida! 

When I became governor since January of 2019, I have appointed five constitutionalists to the Florida Supreme Court. We took the court -- [applause] from being the most liberal court in the United States to now being the most conservative state supreme court in the United States! I have signed legislation banning sanctuary cities. And I have sued the Biden administration over his reckless border policies and his catch-and-release.

I took election integrity seriously from day one, one of the first things I did as governor was accept the resignation of Brenda Snipes from Broward County. We also suspended the Palm Beach County Supervisor and the result was we didn't change the rules during covid! 

We had a transparent, efficient election where we counted 11 million votes by midnight on the night of the election. And I think we were a model for a lot of these other states that took many weeks to do it and all the chaos. And I also know that's not enough and you have to stay ahead of the game. So a few months ago, I signed legislation banning ballot-harvesting in the state of Florida. [applause] 

We've also prohibited mass mailing of unsolicited ballots. There's people that get California ballots that haven't lived there for 10 years. They start getting ballots all across the country and probably most importantly, and I think now more and more people are seeing how important this is, we banned Zuckerbucks in the state of Florida. [applause] Zuckerberg poured $420 million into "nonprofits" which would then basically commandeer local election offices in key areas and they would do things like ballot-harvest. They would do mass mail ballots and do all these different things for partisan purposes. And so we're not going to let anybody, particularly a lot of these leftist, big-tech tycoons commandeer our elections in Florida. We're making sure that we're doing it right. 

And every state needs to ban Zuckerbucks. Because we love this country, we revere its founders, and we want every kid in Florida to understand how lucky they are to be Americans, we have banned Critical Race Theory in our K-12 schools. [applause] We are not spending taxpayer dollars to teach our kids to hate our country or to hate each other. That is not happening in the state of Florida. But we also understand we've got to have a positive vision. And so we've ushered in a renewed emphasis on American civics, particularly in our high schools where students will have a requirement to learn about the key principles that have made our country unique. And that have allowed so many people to succeed. Or even offering a civics boot camp for teachers. We'll give them a $3,000 bonus if you go through the program where we're really going to focus on the key foundations and we also understand that empowering parents is one of the best ways to make sure kids get adequate education.

We're the leading school-choice state anywhere in the United States. [applause] Florida has rejected being a biomedical security state. We have banned vaccine passports. We have made sure -- we have banned mandates for covid vaccine on schoolchildren. That's a parent's decision, that's not something that should be forced. [applause] And in about a week from now, we're going to be meeting in a special legislative session to make sure that nobody in Florida loses their job due to these mandates. [applause] 

When I ran for governor in 2018, I said in the state of Florida, B.D.S. will be D.O.A.! And we have delivered on that! One of the first things I did as governor was move to counteract what AirBnB was trying to do to the Jewish citizens and Judea and Samaria and they backed down and we won that fight against AirBnB. And I'm almost happy to report that we moved very swiftly to place Ben and Jerry's and Unilever on our scrutinized companies list. 

So we see what action means. And I think we all need and in Florida we'll take it. But I think we need it all across the country. And I think we need it from some of our Republicans that are elected into the Congress. We have to stand right now against these Biden mandates. It does not have the constitutional authority to do what he's trying to do and if he can get away with this, trust me, you ain't seen nothing yet. They're going to do more and more and more. And just look as a basic philosophical issue, I think people should be able to make their own decisions on this stuff. Why are we trying to browbeat people? Why are we trying to force? 

No cop, no firefighter, no nurse should be kicked out of their jobs due to these mandates. [applause] It's also the case that this is not going to work with our economy. If it's just 1% of people who are in trucking and in health care and all these other key areas of the economy, it just 1% end up losing their jobs, you're going to see massive, massive economic problems. And so it's terrible policy to be doing that. And then most importantly, this may be an issue now, and it is an important issue about freedom and choice and all that. But the Constitution is even bigger than that. 

Because if they can violate your freedoms on this issue, they're going to violate your freedoms on other issues. We are a government of laws, not a government of men. We don't have policy made by some distant bureau in Washington, D.C., who writes 500 pages of bureaucrat legalese ask then imposes that on hundreds of millions of Americans. That's not the government that this country was founded upon. That's not what our constitution provides. And we as a free people should just say no. No mandates. No restrictions. We are going to take our freedom back. And we have to do that right now against Joe Biden. [applause] 

So you've seen, you might have heard that there's a few people that have decided to move to Florida recently. You know, in 2020, there was more adjusted gross income that moved to the state of Florida than any other state in history. And Texas was number two. But we were three to four times what even Texas was which has gotten a lot of people. And part of it is yes, we have lower taxes. But we've always had lower taxes.

I think the acceleration has been because all these other things, you know, that we're standing up for. I mean, for example, when the riots started happening in 2020 last summer in June, I immediately called out the National Guard in the state of Florida. We said this is not happening here. [applause] We're going to back law enforcement. And we're going to make sure that they understand they have our support. And then since then, I've signed legislation that did really two things. One it said if you riot, if you loot - you're engaging in mob violence in the state of Florida, it's not going to be like it's in Portland where they arrest you, they take your mug shot, slap you on the wrist and put you back out and they do the same thing all over again. In Florida, if you riot and if you loot and engaged in mob violence, you're not getting a slap on the wrist. You are getting the inside of a jail cell. And we're going to make sure that you're held accountable. [applause] we also said very clearly to our local governments in Florida, we are not going to let any local government defund the police. We'll make sure that our law enforcement is funded. And we will overrule you if you try to do that.

And so people have been coming because some of their communities aren't safe anymore. There are some places you'll elect these prosecutors that won't prosecute cases. And so public safety is absolutely one of the top things. And all these other things, people were being treated poorly with covid mandates and covid restrictions. And so this has led to really historic migration into the state of Florida. When I got elected governor in 2018, there were about 300,000 more registered Democrats in the state of Florida than registered Republicans. And as I stand here before you today, I can happily report that for the first time in the history of the state of Florida, we have more registered Republicans than registered Democrats. [applause] 

It's been historic although, you know, and I'm happy about it. And I know that people are coming because they really view Florida as a state that's going to respect your freedom. But I look at like this New Jersey race, I think we would have won that but you have Republicans from New Jersey who moved to Florida. And all these other states. So it's -- it's kind of a conundrum. But I can tell you people do ask, hey, if people are coming from New York, are they all going to be there? And the stats are very clear that these are people that are identifying as Republicans. And I can tell you there's no more Republican group moving into Florida than these Orthodox Jews! They're absolutely fantastic! I mean, they're absolutely unbelievable and you know we're building a lot of great support there. And it's -- it's something that's really, really exciting.

But I think that people know in the state of Florida, we will respect your freedoms. We will fight for your job. We will fight for small businesses. We will fight for kids' education. That's why people are moving to want to come to the state of Florida. It's not just about taxes. And yes, it is the policies important other than that. But it really is about having the willingness and the fortitude to fight back when people's freedoms and livelihoods are in jeopardy and we have done that time and time again in the state of Florida. And we're damn proud of it. 

I also want to say this is the first time I've been back to RJC Since the passing of Sheldon Adelson and one of a kind. And really a guy who was a true warrior for freedom and was somebody that was willing to speak the truth regardless of the consequences. And he took a lot of fire in his day for speaking the truth whether it's the truth about Israel and its right to defend itself, whether it's the truth about things that are going on in our country, left an enormous legacy, and I know Miriam and the family will carry it on. But God bless his memory. He was truly an American original. [applause]

And I would also sadly report from Florida we lost another great member, Jeff Feingold, who was a tenacious fighter and man. He would have your back, and he never wavered for doing what was right. And so in the state of Florida, and I know others around the country, really mourn Jeff's passing. 

And I think if you look at people like Sheldon and Jeff, these people were strong. They would fight. They knew that our freedoms were worth fighting for and knew the U.S.-Israel relationships -- they knew all these things were not easy. But they were worth fighting for. And I think that's where we find ourselves here is I think back to when I ran for Congress for the first time in 2012. I was running to stop Barack Obama which was very important at the time for sure. I even wrote a book (which about a dozen people have read) [laughter] that talked about how his vision was contrary to the best traditions of our country and our constitutional -- and I stand by it. Those were important fights. And it was all something that was worthwhile. 

But I got to tell you, I look back at those days compared to what we're facing now, and it seems kind of quaint to me. Look at the threats we're facing to freedom, to our way of life, to the Constitution, they are much more profound and pervasive than they were just 10 years ago. Think about what these Democrats wanted to do and probably would have done if they had just won a couple more races in the House and Senate. They want to make D.C. a state so that they will have two permanent radical left Democrat senators for life. They want to abolish the electoral college so that California can basically elect a president every time. They want to federalize these fraudulent ballot practices nationwide, overruling states who want to do things like voter i.D. And so you look at that and you think to yourself, are people sitting around their kitchen table saying oh, man, let's make D.C. A state or we got to get rid of the electoral college or do all these other things? No. No voters are actually talking about that. That is not animating everything. They wanted to do it because they want to make conservative Americans second class citizens. They want to lock us out from being able to exercise power, to be able to ex-er -- ex-er size policy. Those stakes are much higher than just passing a bad tax or passing a bad piece of legislation. If they had their druthers (and if they may have had just one or two more senators) they may have been able to change this country structurally which would have caused a generation in the wilderness for us. If you look at what they've done with the bureaucracy by weaponizing agencies like the I.R.S. To go after conservative groups, like they did many years ago and probably continue to do. If you look at what they're doing with the F.B.I. Saying the F.B.I. Should get involved in school board meetings and do -- look at these parents who are rightfully upset about what's happened and all these areas and then of course we get more and more information every day to show you how the intelligence agencies and law enforcement were weaponized to create this Russia Collusion conspiracy theory which was false from the beginning and is obviously false now.

That's not a normal government operating. That's a partisan bureaucracy that is wielding its power against people who dissent from the regime. You also look at what animates so many of these people. It's a woke ideology which I think is much more dangerous than simply saying it's Socialism. It is. But it's much more pervasive and it's a form of cultural Marxism. They want to take away the fabric of our entire society. That's why they're so interested in getting this into the schools. That's why they're so interested in taking down statues of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson . . . George Washington's name off of schools. This is a radical project! 

And let's just be clear. The woke are anti-Semitic! They are anti-Israel! We know that! [applause] So I think when you face that type of -- those types of threats, yeah, you got to stand for the right stuff. You got to know kind of what time it is. 

But you got to have the strength and fortitude to get through these fights. And I think about the Book of Joshua where the Lord asked, have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed for the lord your God is with you wherever you may go. This is the time that we have to understand and in times like these, there's no substitute for courage. You got to have the courage to be able to stand and fight against very hostile political forces. You have to have the courage to stand against things like cancel culture. You have to have the courage to fight back against a very corrupt and dishonest corporate media. And you have to have the courage to speak up for people whose voices cannot be heard in all the stuff that's going on in our society. So I can tell you this, in the state of Florida, I am walking that line. I am standing my ground. I'm not backing down. We've done an awful lot in the state of Florida. But we have a lot more to do. And I have only begun to fight. Thank you, guys.  Thank you. [applause]  Thanks so much! (music)

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