Clay & Buck’s Exclusive Interview with Presidential Candidate Governor Ron DeSantis

CLAY: Florida governor, Ron DeSantis. Governor, I know you’re in a whirlwind right now. We appreciate you coming on with us live right off the top of the show here. And I’m going to hit you with the question that everybody listening to us wants to know the answer to: You say you can beat Joe Biden; you think Donald Trump cannot. Why are you the right choice? Why is Trump the wrong choice?

GOV. DESANTIS: Well, we know the country is going in the wrong direction. We see it with our own eyes, and we can feel it in our bones. And so we need to offer an alternative path to a stronger America. And I think what we’ve done in Florida is face bigger tests than any governor has ever had to face, particularly with covid, and we were able to win all of those battles. We took a state that had been a 50/50 state and turned it into a 60/40 state with my reelection, and that’s not just winning Republicans. That’s winning independent voters by 18%. It’s winning 60% of Hispanic voters, winning women voters by 8%.

I never contorted myself to try to fit the political winds. I was a bold leader. It was bold colors, not pale pastels. But I was able to do that in a way that really developed a groundswell of support. I think the vast majority of the country wants a different direction than what they’re getting with Joe Biden, and I think that, if I’m the candidate, we will win, and I think we will win convincingly. And my promise to those voters participating in this primary: If you nominate me, then January 20, 2025, my left hand will be on the Bible, my right hand will be up in the air on the west side of the Capitol, and I’ll take the oath as president, number 47. And then we’ll get to work, and we will do in the U.S. all the good things that we did in the state of Florida.

BUCK: Governor DeSantis, it’s Buck. Appreciate you being here with us and congrats on on the announcement and getting into the mix here. It’s going to be an interesting primary. We all expect that. I was wondering what your message is to a lot of the folks out there who want to hear about an economic vision, about how things can get better for them. We know the Biden economy stinks. Everyone’s clear on that. We know inflation has been at 40-year highs. What are the things that you would do that would specifically, as president, help the workingmen and -women, many of whom feel forgotten by the Biden administration?

GOV. DESANTIS: Absolutely. Well, first, I could point out nobody has done better on the economy than we have in Florida since covid started. My whole administration has been strong. But if you look at a lot of the problems we see with our overall national economy, they’re rooted in March of 2020 with Fauci, the lockdowns, the Fed printing all the money. We bucked all of that and we kept people free, open schools. We have a great tax and regulatory climate and we’ve had people coming to invest in Florida in record numbers.

People are doing very well here. Our unemployment rate is 2.6%. Blue California and New York are like 4% or 4.1%. So that’s a significant difference and we’ve outperformed the country. So, that’s a great track record to run on. What you do as president is, one, you deal with inflation by doing really three main things. One: Stop spending so much money. A president needs to wield the veto pen against a spendthrift Congress. We have not had a president willing to do that in a long time. I will do it because that’s part of the reason inflation is where it is.

Two: Reverse Biden’s energy policies embrace domestic energy production that will help lower inflation because energy costs are an important part of that. It’s also good for our national security and it’s good for jobs. And then, three, you know, the Federal Reserve is a big part of this problem because they printed such an ungodly amount of money. Their role should be to maintain a stable dollar. They should not be economic central planners, and you need to have somebody in the Federal Reserve that is going to respect that limited role.

We also have to look at the left’s agenda. What they’re doing is they’re making it impossible for middle class people to maintain that standard of living because the energy costs will go up. They have all these other mandates on things like automobiles. For example, I don’t think that we should be forcing people into electric cars. If you want to do that, that’s fine. Why would we want to rely on China for more key materials in a key part of our economy? It makes no sense from a national security perspective.

We’ll also look at ways to lighten the tax burden. We’ve done that in Florida. We just signed tax relief. No taxes on any baby items. So, we want to help families. So, that’s all tax free now. And then we have a toll-relief program where we’re reducing tolls by 50%. So, finding ways that the people that are working hard get relief, because I think what Biden and the Democrats have done is you’re almost better off not doing it the right way. The people that just show up for work every day, work hard, they don’t ask for anything special. They end up having the more difficult time making ends meet. Meanwhile, if you do the wrong things or if you’re just politically connected to the agenda, then you end up better off, and that’s not what the American Dream is all about.

CLAY: We’re talking to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. He announced yesterday he is joining us live here to start off the program. I’m sure you agree — you have a law background; you’ve obviously been very aggressive legally in what you can and cannot do as the governor of Florida, Department of Justice — the FBI has gone after the January 6 defendants with reckless, I would say abandoned. A big part of being president is pardon powers. Do you think the January 6 defendants deserve to have their cases examined by a Republican president? And if Trump, let’s say, gets charged with federal offenses and you are the president of the United States, would you look at potentially pardoning Trump himself based on the evidence that might emerge of those charges?

GOV. DESANTIS: The DOJ and FBI have been weaponized. We see that. We see it in a variety of contexts, some of which you mentioned. Some of it is the FBI going after parents, going to school board meeting. Some of it’s how they treat a pro-life demonstrator, how they don’t go after people that are attacking pro-lifers. And so what I’m going to do is — I’m going to do on Day One – I will have folks that will get together and look at all these cases, who are people who are victims of weaponization or political targeting, and we will be aggressive at issuing pardons. Now, some of these cases, some people may have a technical violation of the law.

But if there are three other people who did the same thing, but just in a context like BLM and they don’t get prosecuted at all, that is uneven application of justice, and so we’re going to find ways where that did not happen. And then we will use the pardon power — and I will do that at the front end. You know, a lot of people wait until the end of the administration to issue pardons. We’re going to find examples where government’s been weaponized against disfavored groups, and we will apply relief as appropriate. But it will be done on a case-by-case basis, because I think you’ve got to make sure that… There’s a whole bunch of cases that don’t necessarily get headlines. But if people are being treated just because they don’t get on TV or something, they’re being treated disfavorably. They need to have a fair hearing as well.

CLAY: And that could be from a grandma who got arrested and prosecuted to all the way up to, potentially, Trump himself. Is that fair to say when you analyze what the charges might have been brought on a federal level?

GOV. DESANTIS: I would say any example of disfavored treatment based on politics or weaponization would be included in that review, no matter how small or how big.

BUCK: Governor, one more for you, because I know you’ve got a very busy day ahead of you — and, actually wait, Clay has one more too at the very end. So we’ve got two more for you. But we we promise we’ll be quick. The border, huge problem at the border. As we all know, 6 million illegals, give or take, have come into the country. You just signed something in Florida that implements E-Verify, which is actually dealing with the illegal population in Florida in a way that Republicans have said they’ve wanted to for a long time. What does a federal policy look like under a DeSantis administration to deal with both the border and illegal immigrants who are already here?

GOV. DESANTIS: So, national emergency declared on Day Oe. All resources mobilized, including the military at the southern border. Construction of the border wall starts, and we will keep going until we finish that. We will stop entertaining asylum claims for people that come illegally across the border. These are mostly economic migrants, and that’s not the way you do asylum, and so we’ll make that very clear. And then we’re going to hold the drug cartels accountable for what they’re doing in trafficking people into our country and trafficking in a huge amounts of narcotics that’s killing tens of thousands of Americans.

Now, overall, I would do E-Verify nationwide, but you have to do that through Congress. That’s very difficult to do. It’s hard to do in Florida because you have the left that opposes it because they want illegal immigration. But then you also have big business and corporations who also want illegal immigration because they want the cheap labor. So that was a very difficult nut for us to crack in Florida. We finally got it done, and I think it’s going to make a big, big difference. And so we would definitely look at doing those things. But this issue has persisted throughout my entire adult lifetime, and we’ve had Republicans talking about it for decades. This is the time to finally put the issue to bed, and I will do it on Day One, and I’ll use all the levers at my disposal to make it happen.

CLAY: Combo question for you here: Your wife, Casey, is fantastic. She’s already gotten attacked by Politico. They called her, basically, Lady Macbeth. I’m wondering what you think about your family already in the line of fire. Second part of this is a little bit different question, but you now are running for president of the United States. I think your first love was baseball. If you could have had a pro-baseball career, would you have ever gotten in politics? Would you be running for governor, congressman, and now president at all if you had been a little bit better baseball player?

GOV. DESANTIS: No. I mean, if I had had a spot in the major leagues in my early twenties, I would have taken that above anything else that anyone could have offered me, and I would have played as long as I could have. I mean, that’s just… When you’re in the sport, that’s just what you do. So, I absolutely would have done that. I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, and would have loved to have that privilege. And, you know, it’s tough because that’s 99.99 percent of people — have to do that to get to that level.

Look, in terms of the family, my wife and I know how this game works. We were not surprised by it. Obviously, the media will get anonymous sources and people that already don’t like us who don’t even really know us, and they’ll try to create narratives. And the good news is, most people realize it for what that is, they don’t accept the narratives and they realize and understand, “Gee, that’s Casey DeSantis, she must be really good, otherwise the media wouldn’t be going after her.” The fact is, she’s been an incredible first lady for Florida. She’s made a huge difference across multiple issues. She’s obviously a wonderful mother and wife, and she’s a heck of an advocate to have out there on the campaign trail.

These guys in the corporate press, they know that, and that’s why they’re doing it. They’re not attacking anybody else’s spouse. It’s just her. So, we understand that just goes with the territory. But, like when they attack me, we both view it as a sign of strength. Ever since I won reelection, Clay, I’ve been the number one target of attacks. She’s getting attacked because people know that we’re a force to be reckoned with. We are a threat to the left’s hold on power in this country, and that’s why we’re always targeted for negative coverage. But you know what? You know, they are right that we represent a threat to leftism in this country because we beat leftism in Florida in ways nobody would have thought possible just five years ago.

BUCK: Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, he is running, folks. Governor, it is going to be a heck of a primary. Appreciate you making time for us. Thanks so much.

GOV. DESANTIS: Thanks so much. Appreciate it.