DeSantis Tells Pennsylvania Conservatives Why Stakes Are High in the 2024 Elections

By Beth Brelje
Beth Brelje
Beth Brelje
Beth Brelje is a national, investigative journalist covering politics, wrongdoing, and the stories of everyday people facing extraordinary circumstances. Send her your story ideas:
April 2, 2023Updated: April 2, 2023

Between the speeches, in the hallways and around tables at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference this week, some of the state’s most engaged conservative voters contemplated the Republican Party’s dual leadership.

“Trump or DeSantis, who do you like?” was the question on many minds. The answer was usually, “both.” And that leads to the next question, “Who has a better chance of winning?”

The indictment this week of former President Donald Trump did nothing to weaken support among this crowd. They are numb to the onslaught of negative stories about Trump that turn out to be untrue or inconsequential. The same folks were eager to hear what Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had to say during his keynote address on Saturday at the conference in Camp Hill.

Many Pennsylvania Republicans told The Epoch Times they believe the candidates have similar chances of winning because voters expect negative attacks to continue for any Republican with the potential to unseat a Democrat.

While a few say Trump carries too much negative baggage from all the political attacks, the prevailing thought is, if Trump was not in the race, DeSantis would catch the same kind of heat opponents have been hurling at Trump.

Set the Rules, Then ‘Play to Win’

All states should ban ballot harvesting as they have in Florida, DeSantis said while addressing the conference. He believes that some states have used COVID as an excuse to change voting rules, but that states should try and get it right. Florida has banned mailing voters unsolicited ballots and requires voters to show identification to vote.

But DeSantis said that, “Whatever the rules happen to be in election season, we’ve got to play ball with that.”

“We can’t tell people that the Democrats are going to harvest all these ballots, but we’re not going to do it? If it’s legal, you have to do it,” he said.

“If Zuckerbucks is legal, you should do Zuckerbucks. You should do whatever they’re doing. Don’t fight with one hand tied behind your back. Play to win.”

The Woke Agenda

Florida has also passed laws for how to approach children over gender issues.

“It’s inappropriate for teachers to be doing things like telling a student that they can change their gender or that they were born in the wrong body. That is wrong. And we do not allow the gender ideology in our schools in Florida,” DeSantis said.

“We’ve had to go after this practice of doing gender surgeries and hormone blockers in minors. They put someone 13- or 14-years old on puberty blockers. They will do a double mastectomy for someone that’s 15- or 16-years old. Kids that age go through a lot. You don’t take off their body parts like that. That is not medical science; that is ideology run amok.”

That is why in Florida, they have ruled through the medical board that physicians who allow these treatments on minors will lose their medical license. The audience applauded this with enthusiasm.

This year, DeSantis aims to ban a central bank digital currency in Florida.

He predicts the government will try to impose a woke agenda through such banking. He envisions consumers trying to buy gas but being stopped by their banking if they have bought too much that week, or being turned down from buying a gun because you already have what the government of the time thinks is too many.

“It’s ceding the power of our financial freedom to a central bank, which does not have our interests at heart,” DeSantis said. He believes all states should band together to say they are not going to allow a central bank.”

“What we’ve seen, whether it’s education, whether it’s a bureaucracy, whether it’s corporate America, there is a left-wing agenda that is being imposed on our society. And in Florida, we’ve just said no. We recognize this as a threat across the board, and we pledge to fight the woke in the schools. We pledge to fight the woke in the corporations. We pledge to fight the woke in the halls of the legislature. Florida will never ever surrender to the woke mob, because our state is where woke goes to die.”

Thinking Nationally

DeSantis said Floridians are satisfied and happy with the trajectory of Florida, but pessimistic about the trajectory of the United States.

“You see Joe Biden, a weak, floundering leader. He’s controlled by the leftist elements of the Democratic Party,” DeSantis said, blaming Biden’s administration for inflation. “The left is playing for keeps. They want to make the citizens of our country second class citizens. And if you look at 2024, if they can win the House and if they win the White House, and they win the Senate, what is their agenda going to be?”

He predicts they will try to pack the U.S. Supreme Court; abolish the Electoral College; make Washington D.C. a state to gain Democrat senators; and federalize ballot processes.

“This is not an agenda that is speaking to Americans over the kitchen table. This is an agenda for them to ensconce themselves in power for generations. The stakes are very high.”