Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday that he would close down the southern border to restore order, just days after the lifting of Title 42 has unleashed chaos there — and urged President Biden to “put us in.”
“I’d shut down the border immediately — why are we letting this happen? It’s hurting people. You deserve to have a secure border, you deserve to have a rule of law,” the expected 2024 presidential candidate told a packed audience in Sioux Center, Iowa, where he attended Republican Rep. Randy Feenstra’s 3rd annual Family Picnic.
“Don’t tell me foreigners can just decide to come across the border when they want to. We decide who comes into this country as Americans. We have every right to have that border secured and not have this disaster unfolding,” DeSantis said.
Adding that drugs are “pouring” into the US, the governor said both Mexican cartels and the country’s government must be held accountable “for allowing a lot of this to happen.”
Taking a shot at President Biden, DeSantis said, “We’ll get cracking on this wall, Joe. Put us in, we’ll get it done.”
The governor touted the ways his “maritime border state” has dealt with the crisis, including banning sanctuary cities and providing state personnel to help the Coast Guard combat migrant vessels attempting to reach the Sunshine State.
“Since August, we’ve repatriated over 12,000 illegal aliens back to Haiti and some of these countries. And guess what happens? They stop coming. We don’t have as many boats coming,” DeSantis said.
Though he has not formally declared his candidacy, the Florida governor is widely expected to launch a campaign for president in 2024. His Iowa speech, an early stump draft, was full of tough talk on red meat issues, which will animate the approaching primary.
“It is wrong for a teacher to instruct a student that they were born in the wrong body or that their gender is a choice. We should not have transgender ideology in our schools,” DeSantis said while highlighting his own accomplishments on the issue.
“It is wrong for physicians to perform sex change operations on minors,” he continued. “This is a barbaric practice, and in Florida, we put a stop to it. Physicians that try to do it will not only be held accountable in terms of statute — they are going to lose their medical license in our state.”
DeSantis’ key rival for the GOP nomination is former President Trump, who also planned to be in Iowa for a rally Saturday before canceling it due to severe weather.
Though he did not name Trump directly in his speech, DeSantis pointedly alluded to him and urged the party to look to the “future.”
“We must reject the culture of losing that has infected our party in recent years, that time for excuses is over. We’ve got to demonstrate the courage to lead and the strength to win,” he said.
“If we do that, if we make the 2024 election a referendum on Joe Biden and his failures … if we get distracted, or if we focus the election on the past or on other side issues, then I think the Democrats are going to beat us again. And I think it’ll be very difficult to recover from that defeat.”
The governor’s Iowa appearance, the first of two in the Hawkeye State Saturday, follows pro-DeSantis super PAC “Never Back Down” announcing that 37 endorsements from Republicans in the state’s House and Senate on Friday, including Senate President Amy Sinclair and House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl.
“The support in Iowa for Gov. Ron DeSantis to jump in the race and be our next president is overflowing – as shown by this historic list, which is the largest number of endorsements from Iowa legislators at this stage of a GOP primary in modern memory,” Communications Director Erin Perrine said in a statement.
With additional reporting by Victor Nava