Freedom’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, Calls Clay & Buck

2 Nov 2021

BUCK: We have with us right now the governor of Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis. Governor, thank you for being with us. We appreciate it.

GOV. DESANTIS: Good afternoon. Thanks for having me.

BUCK: We’ve got so many things to ask you. We’ll just jump right in with the special session, Governor, ’cause I’m here in New York, and we are in the midst of a showdown between New York City government and public sector workers — NYPD and FDNY, most notably, fire and police — who don’t want to get the shot. Now, that he says public sector but there’s obviously private sector mandates going into effect. You in Florida are calling together a special legislative session coming up here. What do you hope to accomplish and why are you doing this?

GOV. DESANTIS: In Florida, we want you to be able to work and earn a living without regard to these jabs. This jab should not condition whether or not you’re able to continue with employment. I think it’s a personal decision. And certainly, for the public sector workers like cops and firefighters who’ve been out for the whole time in covid exposing themselves if need be — most of them have had covid and recovered by now.

But even with the private sector employees it’s very important that they be given these protections as well. Look, I’m not a mandate guy generally, but this vaccine is not preventing transmission. It’s not preventing infections. Basically the benefit has been on reducing severity, which is great, but the idea that you’re gonna mandate this and that’s gonna make a big difference in terms of this is just not accurate.

So it’s anti-science. They don’t recognize natural immunity. They don’t honor the traditional religious exemptions that most people have been honoring with other vaccines, and so we need to make sure people are able to keep their jobs, and so we’re gonna look to protect both private and public sector workers.

CLAY: Governor DeSantis, this is Clay. First of all, thanks for everything that you’ve done because Buck and I, as you know, have wanted to pull our hair out as we have seen so many idiot politicians making idiot choice after idiot choice, and what you guys have done and been so revolutionary about is just look at the data and make rational choices. And I want to share…

I’m sure you’ve got way better access to data than I do, but I’m looking right now at the New York Times database for overall covid infection rates. You have in the state of Florida the absolute lowest covid rate of infection anywhere in the country. States like California that have been praised throughout the heavens have nearly triple the rate that you have.

New York way higher, over double the rate that you have. There’s been almost no media cover of the declining number of cases in Florida despite no mask mandate, no covid vaccine mandate. How unfair is that to the American public the way that the media has covered your state and your administration?

GOV. DESANTIS: Well, I think that’s what’s to be expected. I mean, we have a very partisan, fact-free corporate press in this country. And when Donald Trump was president, every single covid infection was his fault. Since Biden has taken care of, they say that… They never blame Biden. They never hold him accountable for anything even though he campaigned saying he would actually shut down the virus.

So that’s what they’re gonna do. They use it to attack their political opponents and then they’re silent when you do see outbreaks in parts of the country where they like the politicians. But I think most people see through this by now. I think that they understand that this is something that follows a regional and seasonal pattern. The South has more of a summer season so now we’re on the back end of that.

Other places will have peaks in the north in the winter. So the question is, “Are you gonna destroy your society to try to, quote, ‘stop something’ that these restrictions are not going to stop?” And so our view is you protect people’s right to work, their freedoms, people’s businesses, and then do whatever you can to help folks with covid. And we did.

What we found in the summer was people didn’t have access — or they didn’t know about the early treatment even though there’s early treatment available. So we launched a bunch of monoclonal antibody sites, raised awareness, and that helped contribute to a stunning class in our hospital census.

I think we’re on like day 70 within 70 straight days with a declining hospital census and people are able to get this and it basically they still get over it so we just tried to take a science-based approach but certainly we have jettisoned a fear-based approach and we do not govern based on hysteria.

BUCK: We’re speaking to Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida. Governor, it’s Buck. I want to ask you about the lawsuit issue if I can, which ties into covid, obviously. You have right now thousands of NYPD officers on unpaid leave here in New York. Similar situation played out. We have people listening all across the country in their cities where career law enforcement officers lost their jobs.

You got some attention for your state recently, or there was attention on your state for this $5,000 signing bonus that’s supposed to be I believe appropriated and then next year could be paid. But what is Florida doing, what has it been doing to recruit law enforcement officers who are dissatisfied for any number of reasons with how they’re being treated for political reasons across the country. And also, what has Florida been doing overall to try to turn the trend in the other direction for what has been a national crime wave over the last 18 months?

GOV. DESANTIS: Well, first of all, summer of 2020, BLM, Antifa riots, I called out the National Guard. I backed law enforcement a hundred percent. I never bought into the anti-law enforcement nonsense, and so people knew in Florida that I had their back, and they appreciated that. But what we’ve seen over the last year, budgets have been slashed.

The community hasn’t provided for support for officers in places like Seattle and Portland and Minneapolis and the whole nine yards of all these different cities. And so we think we have a historic opportunity in Florida to look around the country, see how low morale is, and say, “You know what? If you come to Florida you’ll have a better quality of life which is important, but you’re gonna be treated with respect.

“You’re gonna be valued here ’cause we’re a law-and-order state,” and in order to help facilitate very experience the and talented people to relocate to Florida we are gonna be offering a $5,000 signing bonus. Now, that will apply to anyone outside the state that has experience that comes and moves. It will also actually apply to some of our young people here in Florida who choose law enforcement as a career.

Because I think the way these officers have been put through the wringer with the corporate press always being demonized, it’s not something that as many people think is worth doing, and you can understand that. So we want to make sure that our folks who’ve grown up here in Florida that are talented also will consider it. So I think we’re already one of the top law enforcement states.

But you can tell you the chatter across this country for, folks, that are dissatisfied with how they’re being treated — and as you said, for a number of reasons. I mean, I think it’s terrible that you’d fire a police officer over a vaccine mandate. These people have been out on the street the whole time.

But there’s so many other reasons why people are dissatisfied and why morale is low. You come to Florida, yeah, you’ll get the signing bonus and that’s important, and people want to be paid. But honestly, it’s more important as a signal to know that Florida’s got your back. And I think we’re gonna have number one in the country for law enforcement, and we’re gonna be proud of that.

CLAY: We’re talking to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Governor, you’ve seen an unbelievable number of people moving to the state of Florida. I saw a viral video of Don Lemon, who’s one of your top critics taking a vacation in Florida which of course was ironic — not wearing a mask, mind you. What are you seeing about the people who are moving into Florida and voting with their people if he came out for the freedoms as you’ve said, an oasis of freedom in the state of Florida right now?

GOV. DESANTIS: November 2018, I got elected governor in Florida. There were 280,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state of Florida. As we stand here today, that number has dwindled to about 3,000 and it very well may be right now — it takes about another week to get October’s numbers. We may actually very well right now may have more registered Republicans than Democrats which would be the first time in the history of the state of Florida that that was the case. And so the pace that we’re seeing is one that by next year’s gubernatorial election we could have 50, a hundred thousand more registered Republicans than Democrats, which if you would have predicted that two/three years ago, people would have said there’s no way.

CLAY: How excited are you for that opportunity to run next year? You just talked about maybe having more Republican voters. How excited are you to get out on the campaign trail and be able to put your record on the line in ’22?

GOV. DESANTIS: Oh, I think it will be… It’s gonna be fun. Because when I ran in ’18, a lot of people didn’t know me. I was one congressman out of 27 in a state of 22 million people. Well, now people know, they know all the stuff that we’ve done. And it will be fun to be able to talk more about some of the things that don’t even get any press attention, which have been very, very significant. But I can tell you this — and I don’t know what it’s…

I was governor for a year basically before covid. We did a lot of great things. People were excited with a lot of stuff we’d done. But since covid, the personal connection you have with people because they go up to me and they say, “Thank you for saving my job.” “Thank you for saving my business.” “If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have had my kids in school.”

BUCK: One last one for you, Governor. There’s a big race today in Virginia between Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin, as you well know. Parents’ involvement in their children’s education, parents’ rights more generally at the center of that very hotly contest and had nationally watched political race. What are you doing in Florida? What does it mean to be protecting the rights of parents when it comes to the schooling their kids are getting and just more broadly the involvement they want to have in their children’s lives?

GOV. DESANTIS: Well, we believe in providing education, but they should not be subject to leftist indoctrination, and so we banned critical race theory earlier this year. We’re gonna do something in the next legislative session to make sure that parents can enforce that to make sure that we have good, solid curriculum and we’re not going down the road of treating people different on the basis of race.

We’ve also done a lot to elevate American civics, because I think it’s important that people understand what this country is about. And, yes, I reject the view of the Democrat candidate in Virginia and the teachers unions that say parents don’t have a right to be involved in what their kids are learning.

In Florida, we believe parents are at the center of that, and that covers a whole host of issues, not just things like critical race theory. I signed a strong Parents Bill of Rights earlier this year, but we’re gonna do some more to strengthen it further because ultimately parents know what’s best for their kids.

BUCK: Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, sir, we appreciate you making the time for us. Thanks for being here.

GOV. DESANTIS: Take care. Bye-bye.

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