DeSantis returns fire at California governor in campaign ad debate over ‘freedom’

‘I mean, like, I’m just sitting here, little old me doing my job’

By: - July 8, 2022 3:01 pm

Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared during a press conference on July 8, 2022, in Cape Coral. Source: Screenshot/DeSantis Facebook

Gov. Ron DeSantis lashed back at California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday over a campaign ad attacking Florida legislation targeting abortion rights, limiting mention of LGBTQ-related materials in schools, and restricting access to voting.

“Freedom is under attack in your state,” Newsom says in the ad, which appeared over the Fourth of July weekend.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized the state of freedom in an ad that ran over the Fourth of July weekend in 2022. Source: Screenshot

“I urge all of you living in Florida to join the fight. Or join us in California, where we still believe in freedom. Freedom of speech. Freedom to choose. Freedom from hate and the freedom to love. Don’t let them take your freedom,” he said.

The Republican DeSantis was asked about Democrat Newsome’s ad during a news conference in Cape Coral, called to announce his issuance of an executive order targeting behavior by pharmacy benefit managers — companies that act as middlemen between insurers and pharmacies — that he said inflates pharmaceutical costs.

“Éverybody wants to talk about me in Florida. I mean, like, I’m just sitting here, little old me doing my job,” DeSantis responded.

DeSantis is also running for reelection in November and as of the beginning of July his Friends of Ron DeSantis committee was sitting on more than $110 million, a lot of raised in places like New York and Los Angeles as the governor has been raised his national profile. He insists, however, that he’s not necessarily running for president in 2024.

He attempted to contrast the state of freedom in Florida versus California.

License plates

“I was born and raised in this state and, until the last few years, I rarely if ever saw a California license plate in the state of Florida. You now see a lot of them. I can tell you, if you go to California you ain’t seeing very many Florida license plates,” the governor said.

He criticized Newsom for attending a dinner party at the French Laundry, a fancy restaurant in the Napa Valley, in November 2020 even as COVID lockdown orders were in place in the state. Newsom was forced to apologize, even though he argued the dinner was held outdoors and in compliance with social distancing guidelines, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“To basically rub his citizens’ noses in the fact that he was basically treating them like peasants,” DeSantis said.

He contrasted that with Florida’s policy of reopening businesses and schools following an initial stay-home order here and outlawing forced masking, forced vaccination, and requiring proof of vaccinations to enter businesses.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Florida outdistanced more populous California in COVID-19 cases and deaths. The CDC reports 232 people per 100,000 in California died of the virus to date, compared with 354 per 100,000 in Florida. Cases per 100,000 people were 25,846 in California and 30,486 in Florida.

“You also look at how we support law enforcement in the state of Florida. We would never allow what’s happened in places like San Francisco and L.A., where these areas have been destroyed with drugs and crime and the homeless, to happen,” he said.


“When families are uprooting from the Pacific Coast to go almost 3,000 miles in search of a better life, that’s telling you something. Yes, we’ve created a citadel of freedom here that has attracted people and we’re proud of it. But let’s just be clear: California is driving people away with their terrible governance,” DeSantis said.

“Some of the best weather in the world is in Southern California; they have some of the best natural advantages, probably the best natural advantages of any state in this country. And for the entire history of California, they never lost population until this recent governor got into office and now they’re hemorrhaging population.

“It’s almost hard to drive people out of a place like California, given all their natural advantages, and yet they’re finding a way to do it.”

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.