Portrait of Ron DeSantis

DeSantis Campaign Press Release - ICYMI: Ron DeSantis on the Stay Free podcast: "I am focusing on the task at hand. I am focused on discipline, and it is all about accomplishing the mission."

July 21, 2023

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Ron DeSantis joined Russell Brand on the Stay Free podcast. The highlights are below.

Watch the full interview HERE.

On bucking the establishment in responding to COVID:

"Well, I am glad you notice that I was born and raised in Florida, and while I have always loved the state, we did not have the same type of pride growing up that say people in Texas have about Texas. Yet, in the last few years, particularly since I have been governor, we have developed that pride. I think a lot of it is rooted in the fact that we told like people like Fauci to take a hike during COVID. We were going to do it our way. We were going to be the Free State of Florida. Obviously, that meant people had a right to work, right to operate businesses, kids needed to be in school. We fought back against mandates, both in terms of not letting local governments impose mask mandates, not letting government or business impose COVID vaccine mandates. So, in every step of the way, we were really leading and now that I come to it, I mean, part of it was I just looked at the data that was coming in. The whole premise of lockdown, both in the UK and in the United States was in the idea that COVID would cause massive amounts of hospitalizations, and we would not even have any more hospital beds leftover for normal patients. We all got those models, all governors, all heads of state. And I am looking at this and like March and April, and none of it was accurate. All the predictions were bogus. So, I said, listen, this is something that we are going to have to live with. Sweden is living with it, and they are doing much better than most of these other countries in Europe. Let us have people make their own decisions, rather than forcing Faucism on our state. I think that the goal of Fauci was to have rolling lockdowns. So, you would lock down, then COVID would go down, then you could maybe open back up and when the next wave started, you would have to lock down again. I think they would have wanted to repeat that over and over again, had Florida not stood in the way, I think they would have gotten away with it. What happened was, we said we are standing for freedom. We remember we had a COVID wave summer of 2020. Everyone was telling me you have got to lock down Florida. Fauci was saying it the White House, the press, the left, all these people. I said, no, I said, I am going to stay, and a lot of people said your political career is over. You know, at the end of the day, so be it right. A leader has got to do what he thinks is right, you got to stand up for your folks, protect their jobs instead of worrying about your own political height. And so that is what we did. It made the state better, and that did, but I do think it had an impact around the country. Because anytime the lockdowners wanted to do more restrictions, people could just point to Florida and say, well, wait a minute, Florida is not doing this, why don't we have to do it? So, we were glad to be able to take that stand. But here is the thing. You still have people today Fauci and the like, they think that what they did was right. They think that these lockdowns worked. My fear is, if this happens in the future, a lot of these people are going to want to do the same thing again. So, one of the things I pledged as President, and I think I am the only one running on the Republican side who will be willing to do this, we are going to bring a reckoning to this health bureaucracy in this medical swamp because these agencies like CDC, NIH, FDA, they failed the American people they become corrupted, and they did a lot of damage with these unscientific anti freedom policies."

On the problem of big government:

"Well, there is way too much authority in Washington, D.C., and in the federal government right now. And a lot of that is I would say, illegitimate authority that has been accumulated over many, many decades. Some of that is because Congress has been neglectful, presidents have been neglectful, but you have a massive bureaucratic administrative state that exists almost outside of typical elections, they exert power over the populace. Regardless of the outcome of elections, none of these people are elected, and they purport to tell us what kind of energy we can use, what kind of car we can drive, even whether potentially, you are allowed to have a gas stove. You know, in Florida, we made gas stoves tax free, because we believe that you should have the ability to do all that. So, part of the project, I think is, is to take power out of Washington and send it back to the states, to localities and individuals. That means we need a radical reduction of the federal bureaucracy, we are going to tell our cabinet secretaries that they have to reduce the number of employees that they have inside DC by 50%, and that is going to probably be the biggest reduction in power in Washington in modern American history. We cannot go down the road of letting more and more power consolidate in Washington D.C. Part of the reason is, the founders never wanted to have consolidated power like that, because they understood that is a threat to freedom. You also have another problem that the ruling class in D.C., they get almost every major issue wrong. So, these are the last people you would want to surrender judgment and freedom to. They are going to lead us down the road to ruin. So, we have got a lot of work to do. At the end of the day, part of the reason we have been successful in Florida is we fought back against the federal government. For example, when the federal government tried to impose the COVID 19 vax mandates on the economy, you had one through the main economy, which we fought back and won. Then they did one on the medical personnel nurses, who a lot of these nurses had had COVID. They did not want to take the vax and so we call the special session of the legislature. We said you do not have to do it in Florida. Federal government said well we are telling you you have to, and we said go pound sand we are not going to cooperate. So, the federal government fined us $2 million but you know what? We saved the jobs of tens of thousands of people throughout our state and so there is a lot you can do when you just stand up to these people to do what is right but there is no question that there is too much power in Washington D.C."

On fighting the establishment and decoupling government and corporate power:

"Well, no. I mean I think it Is a great, great issue and but I actually think it is just the opposite. I I think what you have seen is a collusion between big government and big business. I mean, just take big tech, a lot of the things that were being censored during COVID, for example, that was not just being done because Mark Zuckerberg thought that he wanted it censored. No, he was working with people like Fauci. They were working with people inside of government to censor dissent on lockdowns, on mask mandates, on school closures, on vax mandates. All these things that I mean, if you think about it, a free society has to have debates over important issues. What more important issue have we had in the last decade or two than whether society should be locked down? I mean, are you kidding me? And they did not want to have that debate. So, I actually think that, yes, obviously, when there is less power in Washington, individual states know they have certain powers to make different decisions. But I do think if we break up the relationship between big government and some of these big monopolies, particularly in the tech sphere. I think that is actually going to have universal benefit throughout the country, because there is going to be more ability to speak freely. You are not going to have Uncle Sam with its thumb on the scale. And let us just be clear about this. The federal government could not censor you and say you cannot say something about, say lockdowns, that would violate the First Amendment. Everybody knows that, but they cannot subcontract out that to a private entity and have the private entity do what the federal government could not do directly. It is still a violation of the First Amendment. One of the things we did in Florida as governor, I signed legislation expressly prohibiting our state and local government employees from colluding with big tech for any type of speech censorship or to police quote, misinformation or disinformation. They are not allowed to do that, as a matter of law. As President, I will issue an executive order, basically, barring federal employees from colluding with big tech, like we have seen in the past. But I think this whole idea of freedom in our society has got to be viewed through the lens of yes, we know big government, it can be bad for freedom. There is no question about it, but we live in an era where a lot of these big private concentrations of power are exercising kind of government like power. I mean, if you have Wall Street banks collude to deny funding for say, gun shop owners, well, that is an indirect attack on the Second Amendment. When you have different types of tech companies colluding with government to censor certain subjects. That is an attack on the First Amendment. So, you got to understand that freedoms under attack not just from government power, there is also concentration of private power which does threaten a free society."

On the establishment:

"Well, one, I would push back on this idea that I am representing establishment forces, I get attacked by the corporate press, more than anybody running for office, more than Joe Biden, and now more than Donald Trump, because I think the corporate press views me as a bigger threat. They understand that I will beat Biden, and they know I will actually deliver on all these things, whereas I think they think that Trump would not beat Biden. And then I think they think even if he did, that he would be distracted with all these other stuff and would not be able to deliver. So, I have been the target of all these people. And I think it is because I have been willing to lead. Also, I would point out during COVID, I was the one fighting Fauci, Donald Trump put Fauci in charge, he never fired Fauci. In fact, Donald Trump's last day in office, he gave Fauci a presidential commendation. And I am just thinking to myself, this guy had been responsible for justifying school closures, for justifying mandates, for justifying lock downs. And by January of 2021, we knew how destructive it was. We knew it had failed. So, on the biggest hysterical issue, the biggest current thing where all these elites got together, COVID-19, I was one of the leaders throughout this world to stand against those people. Fight back against them. And so I think that the fact that I have been willing to do that, I mean, for example, I have got a grand jury hearing evidence in Florida about misrepresentations by pharmaceutical companies over COVID-19 jabs. There is not another elected official in the country who has been willing to ask those types of questions. You know, we are doing it and we are getting answers for that. So, I think I present a great opportunity for people because I have all the right enemies. You see it by how they are attacking me, but I also have a proven record of beating these people and we would do the same thing as president."

On the Washington foreign policy elite getting it all wrong:

"Yeah, no, look I mean, I think I think that all those things are important. So, one on the military industrial complex, we are actually going to overhaul how these retired generals are allowed to then just go work for defense contractors. As Commander in Chief, you can put restrictions on that. You basically have a revolving door, where people go from high military positions into just a handful of major defense contractors. We are also going to democratize the ability of people because we obviously need to have a strong defense. But we do not want it to go to just a handful of companies. We used to have all these companies like during World War II, so we want to do that for sure. And we absolutely need an accounting, to just do a blank check that does not serve the American people. When I was in Iraq, the thing that I noticed was, and this was 2007. So, we were there, fighting all Anbar Province, Al-Qaeda in Iraq. I was attached to Navy SEAL team one. And the mission was very murky, yeah, beat Al-Qaeda, but then create a democracy in the Middle East and Iraq. Well, we were not able to do that. So you ended up being there for many years, there was a lot of money spent. There was no clear cut victory. Same with Afghanistan, and I think what is happening in Ukraine is they are barreling towards a multi-year stalemate, where a lot more people are going to die, where you are going to have a lot of treasure that is going to be spent for basically no change in outcome. So what I have said is, we need to focus on achieving a sustainable peace in Europe. We should not want to see this thing go on, we have pressing problems at home that we are neglecting. As you mentioned, our own veterans, we have an open border in the United States of America. We have American families that are losing children, to fentanyl overdose by the tens of thousands., because we have not secured our own border, and yet what we have sent how many hundreds of billions of dollars there. They are not sending that to us. Also, I do think we have threats in this world, such as the Chinese Communist Party, which you have seen as the amount of ammunition and the amount of weapons that have been sent to the Ukraine has actually dwindled our own stocks, so that if we were potentially in a major conflict, we would not be able to likely to respond. Now, Donald Trump, you know, had made different comments the other day, he said he wanted to flood Zelinsky with weapons. I am not exactly sure you know where he is on that, but I think the goal needs to be no blank check and have a sustainable peace in Europe, it does not serve our interests to be involved in this thing infinitum."

Ron DeSantis, DeSantis Campaign Press Release - ICYMI: Ron DeSantis on the Stay Free podcast: "I am focusing on the task at hand. I am focused on discipline, and it is all about accomplishing the mission." Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/364233

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