DeSantis boasts of culture war victories and previews potential 2024 message in State of the State address

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis used his annual State of the State message to Florida legislators to boast of culture war victories and preview policies that would form the backbone of a 2024 presidential campaign should he choose to run for president.

In his remarks on Tuesday, Mr DeSantis told the Florida legislature — which opened a 60-day session that day — that Florida’s population growth over the last few years is due to his decision to reject public health experts advice and take on broader cultural fights over public school and higher education content.

“We defied the experts, we bucked the elites, we ignored the chatter, we did it our way: the Florida way. And the result is we are the No 1 destination for our fellow Americans who are looking for a better life,” he said.

The Florida governor also attacked the Biden administration’s immigration policies and blamed Mr Biden for allowing a “massive amount of fentanyl being trafficked around the southern border” which he said is responsible for having “devastated families throughout our nation.”

Mr DeSantis also said the Sunshine State has been “on the front lines in the battle for freedom” and urged lawmakers to continue delivering on GOP priorities, telling them: “Now is not the time to rest on our laurels”.

“We have the opportunity and indeed the responsibility to swing for the fences so that we can ensure that Florida remains No 1,” he said. “Don’t worry about the chattering class. Ignore all the background noise. Keep the compass set to true north. We will stand strong. We will hold the line. We won’t back down. And I can promise you this: You ain’t seen nothing yet”.

His remarks came just hours after legislators introduced what could be one of the nation’s strictest abortion laws, a so-called “heartbeat” bill that would render almost all abortions illegal after just six weeks of pregnancy.

The proposed legislation drew a strong rebuke from White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who issued a statement decrying the measure.

“Florida’s proposed bill would ban abortion before many women know if they are pregnant, virtually eliminating a woman’s right to make health care decisions about her own body. Politicians like Governor DeSantis espouse ‘freedom for all,’ while directly attacking the freedom to make one’s own health care decisions. This proposal is wrong and out of touch with the overwhelming majority of Americans, including Floridians, who support a woman’s right to choose,” she said.

“This ban would prevent not just the nearly four million Florida women of reproductive age from accessing abortion care after six weeks, but would also impact the nearly 15 million women of reproductive age who live in states across the South with abortion bans and would no longer be able to rely on Florida as an option to access care”.

Although Mr DeSantis did not mention abortion explicitly during his remarks, he did say the state he leads is “proud to be pro-life”.