Assessing DeSantis’s Opening Bid for the White House (2023)


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Fact Check

We examined the Republican candidate’s defense of his record as Florida governor, his dispute with Disney and his attack on President Biden.

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Assessing DeSantis’s Opening Bid for the White House (1)

By Linda Qiu

Reporting from Washington

(Video) Ron DeSantis announces White House bid in glitchy Twitter event with Elon Musk

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Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida announced his presidential bid on Wednesday night in a livestream on Twitter that was delayed by technical difficulties and peppered with occasionally misleading claims.

Here’s a fact check of some of his claims.

What WAS Said

“Biden’s also politicized the military and caused recruiting to plummet.”

This lacks evidence. Military leaders have recently warned that several branches of the armed forces are struggling to meet recruiting targets, but the reasons they have cited have little to do with President Biden. Namely, many younger Americans simply fail to qualify.

A 2020 Pentagon study found that just 23 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds can meet service standards, with many failing the military’s entrance exams or fitness and mental tests. That rate decreased by six percentage points from the previous study in 2017.

Army leaders addressed recruiting issues in a congressional hearing in April, noting that the issue has been ongoing.

“The difficult recruiting landscape we face didn’t happen in a year, and it’s going to take us more than a year to turn this around,” said Christine Wormuth, the secretary of the army.

Ms. Wormuth also noted that a Pentagon survey of 2,400 people ages 16 to 28 had asked about obstacles to enlisting. Respondents cited fear of injury and death as the top concern while cultural and political issues — “wokeness in the military or the Covid vaccine mandate, for example — those were relatively low on the list of barriers to service,” she said.

(Video) Reporter breaks down Ron DeSantis announcing 2024 campaign on Twitter

What WAS Said

“In Florida, our crime rate is at a 50-year low. You look at the top 25 cities for crime in America, Florida does not rank amongst the top 25.”

This is largely true. The state’s crime rate did fall to a 50-year low in 2021, but Mr. DeSantis omits a big caveat: Many law enforcement agencies in the state switched to a different reporting methodology and the data is provisional and incomplete in many cases, The Tampa Bay Times reported.

Data from just 59 percent of Florida agencies covering 57.5 percent of the population was used for the state’s total aggregate crime rate in 2021. That mirrors a nationwide trend: Across the country, nearly 40 percent of law enforcement agencies failed to report 2021 crime data because of the new methodology.

No Florida city ranked near the top for violent crime rate compiled by private companies and news outlets. But it’s worth noting the Federal Bureau of Investigation and criminal justice experts have also long advised against comparing crime rates across cities, given the wide variation in population size and demographics.

What WAS Said

“Nobody probably has made Disney more money than me because they were open during Covid. And they were closed in California and that went on for many, many months where literally, I had all the theme parks in Florida opened in 2020.”

This is exaggerated. Disney World in Florida closed on March 15, 2020, along with every other Disney theme park worldwide. It reopened in July, after being shut down for four months. Disney resorts in Paris, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo also reopened in 2020 after being closed for months. Disneyland in California reopened April 30, 2021, after a yearlong shutdown, the longest among the Disney resorts, once the state allowed theme parks to welcome back visitors.

Mr. DeSantis is also downplaying his own actions during the coronavirus pandemic. He issued an executive order on April 1, 2020, directing all residents in Florida to “limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary.” While the order did not explicitly close theme parks, it limited openings to essential services and activities, and prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people. The order expired on May 1.

What WAS Said

“The whole book ban thing is a hoax. There’s not been a single book banned in the state of Florida. You can go buy or use whatever book you want.”

This is misleading. There has been no statewide ban of a book, but Mr. DeSantis is vastly playing down the extent to which individual school districts and libraries in parts of the state have removed books. In fact, Florida ranks second, behind Texas, as the state with the most bans at 357, according to PEN America, a nonprofit that supports free expression.

Legislation signed by Mr. DeSantis limiting discussion of sexual orientation, gender identity and race has led teachers and administrations to remove books. Mr. DeSantis’s own press office has said that “school districts are required to report the number of books removed from schools based on legislation passed in 2022.” The press office reported 175 books removed across the state.

Some of those books include a picture book about two male penguins raising a chick, Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” and Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

What WAS Said

“Actually, the one this week was that Miami-Dade County took a book that was about poems from I think like Biden’s inauguration, and they moved it from the elementary school library to the middle school library.”

This requires context. The Bob Graham Education Center, which teaches students from prekindergarten through eighth grade in Miami-Dade County, moved the poem “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman from the elementary school section of the school media center to the middle school section.

Mr. DeSantis argued that this did not constitute a ban, as the book was not removed entirely. But nonetheless, access has been limited.

A spokeswoman for the school district said that elementary school students who wish to read the poem, or any other book deemed appropriate only for older students, would have to demonstrate that they can read at a middle school level. Otherwise, the book will not be available to elementary school students.

According to the American Library Association, restrictions on books and resources “based solely on the chronological age” of users violates its library bill of rights. Libraries “should not resort to age restrictions in an effort to avoid actual or anticipated objections,” the association said.

What WAS Said

“I’d reverse what Biden’s doing. You need to shut the border down. You should not be entertaining these asylum claims for people crossing illegally.”

(Video) Who is Ron DeSantis, Trump's New Challenger? Vantage on Firstpost

This is misleading. Presidents cannot simply stop processing all asylum claims based on whether migrants cross the border illegally, as previous administrations have learned. Moreover, the Biden administration has actually imposed new restrictions on asylum that essentially align with what Mr. DeSantis suggested: As of May 11, migrants who unlawfully enter the United States are generally presumed to be ineligible for asylum, unless they can demonstrate an exception.

But much like his predecessor’s attempts, Mr. Biden’s efforts to limit asylum for those crossing the border unlawfully may face legal and procedural hurdles.

Before the Trump administration, the United States could not legally turn away migrants who sought asylum, even if they crossed the border illegally, without processing their claims. In 2018, the Trump administration sought to overhaul asylum law and announce new rules effectively barring migrants who crossed illegally from seeking asylum. Almost immediately, the Supreme Court barred the policy from taking effect, and an appeals court eventually ruled that it was unlawful.

Another Trump administration rule, announced in 2019, denied asylum to migrants if they had passed through another country and failed to apply for asylum there. An appeals court struck down that rule in 2020.

Beginning in 2020, the Trump administration also used Title 42, a public health law that allows the government to swiftly expel people who crossed the border illegally. The Biden administration continued the policy until May 11, when the designation of a public health crisis ended, and with it the use of Title 42.

What WAS Said

“If I’m president, we are not doing a central bank digital currency. I think that that would be a huge, huge imposition on people’s financial freedoms and financial privacy. By the way, what would the logical result of this be? If the central authority has oversight over this, of course they’re going to start imposing E.S.G. criteria.”

This lacks evidence. A central bank digital currency would effectively be the digital version of a dollar bill. The Federal Reserve has begun researching its use but has said it has not decided about issuing such a currency and would only do so with support from Congress. Mr. DeSantis is speculating, with no factual basis, that the government would use the digital currency to control or limit consumer spending to align with environmental and social goals like curbing consumption of fossil fuels or tightening gun control.

In a fact sheet, the Fed noted that a digital currency would not replace current forms of money and would protect consumer privacy. And several banking experts told PolitiFact that current laws prohibit the spending surveillance and controls that Mr. DeSantis warned of.

A correction was made on

May 24, 2023


An earlier version of this article misstated the change in the percentage of 17- to 24-year-olds meeting the military’s recruiting standards. It was a reduction of six percentage points, not a reduction of 6 percent.

(Video) Ron DeSantis launches 2024 presidential bid, IRS whistleblower speaks out, more | CBS News Mornings

How we handle corrections

Linda Qiu is a fact-check reporter, based in Washington. She came to The Times in 2017 from the fact-checking service PolitiFact. @ylindaqiu

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(Video) Who is Ron DeSantis, Trump's New Challenger? Vantage on Firstpost


How many people watched DeSantis? ›

According to Twitter's metrics, the audio event — which was initially marred by more than 20 minutes of technical glitches before it was restarted — garnered a high of about 300,000 concurrent listeners, or those who simultaneously tuned in as Mr. DeSantis made his announcement.

What time is Ron DeSantis announcing? ›

What time is the Ron De Santis 2024 presidential candidacy announcement? Musk and DeSantis will host the discussion, moderated by tech entrepreneur David Sacks, on Twitter Spaces at 6 p.m. EST.

When did DeSantis announce his candidacy for president? ›

Following his announcement with Musk, DeSantis will be interviewed by Trey Gowdy Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox News Tonight, according to the network. The governor “all but declared his candidacy” during a May 18 donor call, according to the New York Times.

Who is the new Florida governor? ›

DES MOINES, Iowa May 30 (Reuters) - Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, following his presidential campaign debut online, will dive into old-school retail politicking in key early voting states this week, his first chance to connect with voters since announcing his bid for the 2024 Republican nomination.

What are some important facts about DeSantis? ›

Ronald Dion DeSantis (/dəˈsæntɪs/ or /diːsæntɪs/; born September 14, 1978) is an American politician serving since 2019 as the 46th governor of Florida. A member of the Republican Party, DeSantis represented Florida's 6th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2013 to 2018.

How many terms has Ron DeSantis served as governor of Florida? ›

He was elected to three terms beginning in 2012. DeSantis resigned his U.S. House seat on September 10, 2018, during his gubernatorial campaign.

How can I watch DeSantis announcement? ›

Anyone can join, listen, and speak in a Space on Twitter for iOS and Android. Currently, you can listen in a Space on web," according to the platform. Anyone with a Twitter account will be able to join the session once it begins and listen to the announcement by DeSantis and his conversation with Musk.

Can DeSantis run for governor in 2026? ›

Incumbent Governor Ron DeSantis will be term limited through the state's constitution and cannot run for reelection to a third term.

How do I join DeSantis Twitter space? ›

Here is how to join
  1. Visit
  2. Click on listen live in Spaces.
  3. Join the Space.
7 days ago

Is Ron DeSantis a millionaire? ›

Net Worth. DeSantis' net worth is currently around $320,000, according to Celebrity Net Worth. His assets include a $134,181 governor's salary, $235,000 in a USAA account and $105,755 in a thrift savings plan, a government retirement and investment plan, according to FCE data.

Has Elon Musk endorsed DeSantis? ›

Last June, Musk tweeted that he was leaning toward backing DeSantis in 2024, though he has said he won't make an endorsement Wednesday. They have shared similar rejections of Covid-19 mitigation strategies and people sharing their pronouns to announce their gender.

What religion is Ron DeSantis? ›

DeSantis “a practicing Catholic who has positioned himself as a defender of the Christian faith.”


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