Portrait of Ron DeSantis

DeSantis Campaign Press Release - Ron DeSantis' CNN Town Hall in New Hampshire

January 16, 2024

"Even though she [Nikki Haley] spent 100% of her money attacking me, and not one red cent attacking Donald Trump, and I faced almost 50 million in total, I got in second, and she did not."

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Just one day after the Iowa Caucuses and following a busy morning with two events in South Carolina, Ron DeSantis joined CNN for a town hall in New Hampshire hosted by Wolf Blitzer. The highlights are below.


On why Haley and Trump owe it to New Hampshire voters to debate:

The tradition here with first-in-the-nation is something that's very significant. I agreed to do a debate with WMUR and ABC on Thursday, and with CNN on Sunday. I'm the only candidate that actually agreed to come to New Hampshire to debate, and what does that say? We have four candidates for president now: Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, and me. I'm the only one who's not running a basement campaign at this point. You deserve, as a voter, to have the candidates come up, answer your questions in forums like this, have somebody like Wolf moderate a debate where you go back and forth...we've gotten away from, 'Hey, let's make let people make these decisions' to almost like, you know, just let the media coverage determine what's going on. I don't think that's what we want in a republican form of government.

On Nikki Haley's defeat in Iowa:

She said and her campaign said that there's only two tickets out of Iowa, that the top two out of Iowa would be valuable, and that she would finish at least second, and then that would be the race. Well guess what happened? Even though she spent 100% of her money attacking me, and not one red cent attacking Donald Trump, and I faced almost 50 million in total, I got in second, and she did not. And that's just the reality. And here's the thing. In Iowa, you can actually show up as a Democrat on the day of the caucus, change your registration, and then participate in the Republican caucus. In New Hampshire, you can't do that.

On the danger of a Trump-Biden rematch for the country:

We have a choice as Republicans: what do we want the 2024 election to be about? And with me as your nominee, it'll be about holding Biden accountable on the economy, on the border, on crime, on the problems internationally, on the growth of government and the bureaucracy, bringing accountability for COVID, ending weaponization of federal agencies and then offering a way where we can restore the American Dream and get the get the nation's fiscal in order. I think we win if that's how the debate is. If Donald Trump is the nominee, the election will revolve around all these legal issues, his trials, perhaps convictions, if he goes to trial and loses there, and about things like January 6. We're going to lose if that's the decision that voters are making based on that. We don't want it to be a referendum on those issues. We want it to be a referendum on the country going in the wrong direction. And a candidate like me being a president, that can reverse the decline. And here's the thing. Yeah, we talk about issues that are important for sure. And there's some things that need addressed right away. But me as President, I view this election, not just for eight years, but really things that are going to impact this country for a quarter century. And if you're not thinking down the road that long, then you're just not going to be able to do what we really need to do so that America remains the last best hope on Earth. I just don't think we're going to succeed if all those issues are front and center on voter's minds, and so we have an opportunity to choose and choose well.

On the need to secure the border:

First of all, I think this is part of the problem with an open border, because you're incentivizing some really perilous behavior. There's people that are paying large amounts of money to coyotes and drug cartels to be brought into this country. There are people being abused sexually, there are people that are being trafficked that are in the country and the US is incentivizing this. It's madness. So stopping the migration and having a closed border is the humanitarian thing to do now. I am going to empower the states to be able to enforce immigration law. I don't think that Texas should have to sit there and deal with all the consequences of the federal government in neglecting their duties. And I think that's been a problem with the Biden administration...so we're going to work together with the states and the local sheriffs. So you're not going to have these conflicts like that exist right now, between Biden and Texas, or between Biden, and local sheriffs in places down in Texas.

On why he decided to join the military:

I played baseball all the way through college, and I wanted to do that as long as I could, if I couldn't play then be involved in it somehow. And then 9/11 happened. And 9/11 really changed how I viewed the world, because I grew up in the 80s and 90s, particularly the 90s. It was like a holiday from history, we didn't seem to have a care in the world. And that was a reality that brought to our shores when those terrorists killed those 3000 people. And so our nation was in conflict. I didn't get anything in terms of money special, I gave up a lot of money in the private sector that I could have been able to do in order to serve. But I just felt that I'm blessed to be an American, blessed to be born and raised in this country. We were in conflict, and I felt that I should raise my hand and serve. And so we raised our hand to serve and also volunteered to go to Iraq. At the time, I was not forced to do that. It was something that I wanted to do. So I was there in 2007 and 2008 time period. And I learned a lot about what veterans go through, what our service members go through, what happens when they come home. And I'm going to put veteran's issues on the front burner as commander in chief.

On what he learned from his baseball career:

From the time I could walk, I was involved with baseball. This was kind of my passion. And I think what baseball teaches you is one, you learn to deal with failure. You could be the best hitter in the league, and you're failing 65% of the time. And that wasn't always easy for me as a kid. I get upset if I didn't get a hit. But you learn how to do that, you learn how to come back next time. You also learn, it's a combination of individual sport, but also a team sport. When you're in that batter's box, no one else can do it, but you see the ball, you hit the ball, either do it or you don't. But then in the grand scheme of things, you need to be able to get runners on base, you know, people drive people in, you need to play good defense and to do that. So it's a combination of individual initiative, as well as a team sport.

On keeping woke indoctrination and ideology out of universities:

The US is not a racist country, and we've overcome things in our history. I think the Founding Fathers, they established a set of principles that are universal. Now, they may not have been universally applied at the time, but I think they understood what they were doing. They understood that those principles would be the engine for progress for generations to come. And that's what's happened. I think the Republican Party stands for merit and achievement and colorblindness, that is what we should stand for. So for example, in Florida, I've eliminated things at our universities like this DEI deal. They say it's diversity, equity and inclusion, but it's really very ideological, and they're trying to impose an agenda. I think the way it's actually practiced, it stands for discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination. And it's wrong let's not divvy people up based on race, ethnicity, or gender. Let's treat people as individuals, not as members of group. Of course, we'll all come together and there say there should be no discrimination against anyone based on that. But that's not just discriminating against ethnic or racial minorities. Of course you don't do that. It also means you don't discriminate against white and Americans or in the university setting, you don't discriminate against Asian Americans just because they tend to have to have high performance. So individual achievement and merit has to be restored in this country. A colorblind society is what we should aspire to. And that's what I'll do as president.

Ron DeSantis, DeSantis Campaign Press Release - Ron DeSantis' CNN Town Hall in New Hampshire Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/370622

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