DeSantis Takes the Stage...Will He Try to Take the White House?

AP Photo/John Raoux

CPAC 2021, Orlando, Florida

Friday’s opening speaker was the governor of the state who welcomed CPAC back into regular life.

Introduced by ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp, Governor Ron DeSantis took the CPAC main stage to a standing ovation. There was no doubt that the ballroom was buzzing with excitement for one of the few governors in the country to resist lockdown culture and the cult of COVID.

DeSantis didn’t waste any time. He welcomed the crowd to the “free state of Florida” and they responded in kind. The air was electric with excitement. Although Orange County has mask mandates and some basic capacity controls, the vibe at CPAC 2021 seems to be one of cooperation and congeniality. Attendees are happily complying (with the exception of one or two “shock jock” personalities trying to get a rise out of the lovely volunteer staff for their YouTube channels) with mask requests in the hotel and meeting rooms. People seem to be generally gracious about giving each other the space they may need or want to feel comfortable. Despite what the progressive media would have us all believe, Florida isn’t a “super spreader” state with a bunch of yahoos running around spitting all over each other and burning face masks. It looks to be a model of how to deal with a virus that is very serious, but still has a 99.7% survival rate.

Cautious freedom.

The reception for DeSantis was energetic but the governor’s speech was, dare we say…presidential?

One would expect him to tout the successes in his own state, but DeSantis didn’t stop there. The speech he gave was exactly the speech one might give if he were trying to make his case to the American people at large.

It wasn’t just a litany of Florida’s positives during these trying times, it was a buzzword-packed screed that hit every note for a potential presidential candidate.

He spoke about his fiscal record, the success in a measured approach to COVID restrictions, the dangers of Big Tech, the decline of free speech, and ballot fraud.

Redstates Jennifer Oliver O’Connell reports:

Governor DeSantis was greeted with rousing applause and a standing ovation as he welcomed the attendees. DeSantis said that he was glad they chose to do CPAC here so he could attend.

“I have a policy: I only travel to free states!” He said, to laughter and cheers.

DeSantis dived right in to the elephant in the nation:

“The oppressive yoke of lockdowns. While so many Governors locked people down, Florida lifted people up.”

DeSantis is coming from a place of victory, with low COVID numbers, low unemployment, and businesses that are open and thriving, rather than closed and floundering. Because of DeSantis’s economic and open state policies, the State of Florida is seeing a surplus.

DeSantis declared that the government has not touched,

“one red cent of our rainy day funds. Florida got it right, and the lockdown states got it wrong.”

This was met with more applause and cheers. DeSantis is the poster child of a successful model of governance, and the CPAC crowd obviously approved.

DeSantis was upbeat, personable, and savvy in his remarks. On every note, he sounded like a presidential candidate, and the crowd ate up every second.

Is it too soon to be thinking about the 2024 elections? Does DeSantis have plans to run for the White House in 2024?

To answer the first question, absolutely not. What we did not realize in 2020 (and paid for dearly) is that the progressive left, Big Tech, and the Democrat Party had spent the last four years colluding and strategizing to pull the election out from Donald Trump. Even TIME Magazine admitted it was a massively coordinated effort to oust an extremely popular president, and it worked.

Republicans and their voters need to begin making plans now for the next election. There needs to be a multi-pronged effort to shore up election law, grapple and combat the current media narrative, and subvert Big Tech. Potential candidates need to start building their records and their reputations. Voters need to start the process of deciding what type of candidate they want to see in a post-Trump GOP. It isn’t too early to start planning for victory, particularly considering what we went through this past year.

As far as DeSantis’ own plans for the presidency, his speech seemed very much like a trial balloon. What better place to float one than at CPAC?

A lot can happen in four years, but to this writer at this moment, at this conference in this state, it sure looks Governor Ron DeSantis has every intention of trading in an orange county for a white house.

And if the CPAC crowd is any indication, he’s off to a running start.