DeSantis headlines 8th annual Basque Fry

After his speech, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis autographs a hat on Saturday at the eighth annual Basque Fry.

After his speech, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis autographs a hat on Saturday at the eighth annual Basque Fry.
Photo by Steve Ranson.

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With the jagged, snowcapped peaks of the Sierra Nevada rising behind him, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke Saturday before an estimated crowd of 2,500 people at the Basque Fry.

DeSantis highlighted his accomplishments of the past four years and what he would propose if elected president.

DeSantis’ appearance was two years in the making since was scheduled to speak alongside Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas at the 2021 Basque Fry at Corley Ranch south of Gardnerville. A devastating hurricane battered Florida in August of that year, and DeSantis remained in the state to deal with Ida’s aftermath.

During his remarks that lasted almost 45 minutes, DeSantis painted a picture of his accomplishments as governor of the third most populated state behind California and Texas. He avoided making any direct comparisons with former President Donald Trump although he did take the occasional subtle dig of how he can accomplish his governmental tasks.

DeSantis, who attended the Reno Rodeo on Friday with former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, used the opportunity to meet Northern Nevadans.

Laxalt, who began the Basque Fry in 2015, and DeSantis have a friendship extending almost 20 years. They attended Naval Justice School together to learn more about the principles of military law, and they headed off in their respective assignments as Navy JAG (judge advocate general) officers.

DeSantis opened his stump speech with a dig at California which the crowd relished. Living in Florida when he was younger, DeSantis didn’t see many motorists with California license plates. That analogy morphed into more of a political overtone with DeSantis playing a game of opposites.

“In Florida, we choose education over indoctrination, law and order over rioting and disorder,” he said, stressing the need to protect people’s rights and their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. “In short, we chose freedom over Fauci-ism.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who retired in December as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was the nation’s voice for the pandemic for more than two years.

Shifting topics, DeSantis said a person serves as a governor or president, the buck stops with them, yet he doesn’t see that occurring with the current Biden administration. As a first-term governor, he said his administration fought Fauci, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, bureaucrats, the media and the political left.

“Leadership is about producing results,” he said of his record in Florida, which has a $1.2 trillion economy, making it the 13th largest in the world. DeSantis, though, took exception with the Disney Corp., which drew more applause from the crowd.

“I don’t want to be joined at the hip with a company that is exporting the sexualization of minors,” DeSantis pointed out.

The Florida native said he’s standing up for what many Republicans want.

DeSantis said what he accomplished in Florida can be replicated as president, and he demonstrated that train of thought from his first term. In 2018, he won by 32,000 votes and last year he soundly defeated Charlie Crist by 1.5 million votes. DeSantis handily won Miami-Dade County, a feat many Republicans have been unable to perform in the blue-leaning area of southeastern Florida.

“That was the biggest landslide in Florida history,” DeSantis touted.

DeSantis hit on another topic that brought more applause and cheering when he said school systems must stop indoctrinating students, and parents have a right to know what curriculum is being taught in the schools. More than one year ago, DeSantis signed legislation to ban Critical Race Theory. Instead, he said there should be more emphasis on students studying the U.S. Constitution and what it means to be an American.

“We can’t let the country slip into a dumpster fire of wokeness,” he said.

As a governor, DeSantis would like to see the president have a line-item authority to veto specific aspects of a bill but not all of it. Both former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush advocated for line-item veto. DeSantis calls it fiscal responsibility.

“If you do that, you will have less inflation,” he added.

If elected president, DeSantis said he would be fiscally conservative, continue to build the border wall between the United States and Mexico, hold Mexico accountable and also hold drug cartels accountable for fentanyl coming into the United States.

“2024 — time for excuses is over. Either you get it done or don’t,” he said.

DeSantis wrapped up his time behind a waist-high metal barrier by walking the line with throngs of people pressed on the other side and autographing anything from programs to hats to T-shirts.

Laxalt, who chaired Trump’s presidential campaign in Nevada in 2020, said DeSantis is someone who stood up by himself during COVID.

“He has the mentality, the tenacity, the fight, the drive to go on the offense and actually take back our country,” Laxalt said.

Laxalt considers his Navy pal as a conservative warrior for all conservative Nevadans.

Susan Ruch, chair of the Carson City Republicans, liked his speech.

“I thought the speech was wonderful,” she said after the Basque Fry. “He has a lot of great talking points.

“Whoever wins the primary, we are backing 100 percent. Good luck to him (DeSantis), good luck to Trump, good luck to the others.”

Sue Graham, also from Carson City, said she thought DeSantis’ appearance and speech were “absolutely wonderful.”

“He did a really good job, and we love Trump, too, but he (DeSantis) was strong.”

Graham said DeSantis’ experience as former congressman and governor are good attributes for him to have. She said DeSantis understands the process and also understands the military as a Navy JAG.

“He gets results done,” she said.

Prior to the speakers and grand entry, Shawn Newman of Fernley said was leaning more toward Trump. He still feels the 2020 election was rigged to allow a Biden win although scores of court cases and judges’ rulings state otherwise.

Newman said Trump still has work to finish as president, but he thought a Trump-DeSantis ticket would look interesting.


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