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UNEDITED: Brian Kilmeade's full interview with Gov. Ron DeSantis

Brian Kilmeade Show / Brian Kilmeade
The Truth Network Radio
February 28, 2023 12:55 pm

UNEDITED: Brian Kilmeade's full interview with Gov. Ron DeSantis

Brian Kilmeade Show / Brian Kilmeade

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February 28, 2023 12:55 pm

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Joining me now, Governor Ron DeSantis, the author of a brand new book, The Courage to Be Free, Florida's Blueprint for America's Revival. Governor, welcome. Hey, thanks for having me. So, ironically, Governor, you're out with your second book, but without your first one, I would say there's no Congressman DeSantis and there's no Governor DeSantis.

Am I correct? You know, in a roundabout way, maybe. I mean, I had gotten out of the military, I was, you know, dabbling in different things, and this was a time where, you know, you kind of had the Tea Party Movement, a lot of energy, and I thought maybe I could just provide commentary kind of in my spare time, maybe write a little bit, and so I ended up doing that. And what it did is it took me in different parts around Florida where I would speak to like 100 people, I'd sell 20, 30 books, and we'd go around Florida doing that, and what happened was a lot of these people that were buying the book were saying, hey, you should run for office.

And I'm like, well, run for what? Well, then what happened was they did the reapportionment in 2012, they created a new congressional district where we lived, my wife and I at the time in Ponte Vedra Beach, and so I started no name ID, no money, six-month campaign, and we ended up winning a seven-way primary by 15 points. And you just gutted it out, knocking on doors, your wife's celebrity in Jacksonville as a very well-respected anchor, going from neighborhood to neighborhood.

You don't hear stories like that anymore. Yeah, I'll tell you, you've got to work to raise money, of course, and I did, and we ended up doing good in that, but the best way to convince someone to vote for you is a knock on their door, shake their hand, look them in the eye, and ask for their vote. And especially in a primary situation where everyone kind of says they're so conservative, right, they all take the same positions, just the fact that you were able to meet somebody, you know, that could be the difference. And then my wife would do, too, so what we ended up doing is we bought her a little scooter, so I had a pickup truck, I have 150, so we would go, and you have the map of the homes, because, you know, if you are my neighbor but you don't vote in Republican primaries, I'm not knocking on your door. If your neighbor always votes in Republican primaries, I'm knocking on their door. So we had, we knew the homes we'd have to do, so she would go on the scooter in one part of the neighborhood, I'd go on the truck in the other, we'd knock, and then we'd meet kind of in the middle, and then we'd go do it again, and I'll tell you, to this day, if we're in any of those areas, places like Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, St. Augustine, people will come up to me and they will say, you knocked on my door 10 years ago, or your wife knocked on my door, and it's something that they've never, never forgotten. Well, and that's great, Alicia, a foundation, and I guess you have to check your ego, because some people don't want to hear it.

You knock on their door, they'll close it. It's interesting, the number of people that were rude on that were very, very small, especially compared to the number of people like invite you into their house and want to give you like cookies and coffee and all this stuff, and so you really saw a lot of great people, but I'll tell you, Brian, the people that run for office, you know, the higher political consultants, they pull test phrases, they do some of this stuff, it's not the same as hearing it from the horse's mouth. When you actually hear voters tell you, you know, what's bothering them, what their concerns are, what their aspirations are, it comes, it's much more powerful, it's much more useful than just reading some type of poll data or reading whatever, you know, some of the local newspaper says is important to them, and that was something that I always remembered, and honestly, it was something that I always kept with me when I went to DC as a congressman, because one of the things they were concerned about is, you know, all of our Republicans, they always say these good things, they get up there, and then they change, and they become part of the problem, and so, you know, that was something that I took to heart. Right, Governor DeSantis, our guest governor, I was able to get the book on Friday, so I got through it, it's excellent, two-thirds of which I did not know, and I've been able to interview you. I forgot that you actually announced that you're running for governor on Fox and Friends, but the thing that really struck me in the most ironic fashion is, I did not know you got married at Disney, right on the chapel attached to the Grand Floridian.

It's an ironic story, so I had gotten back from Iraq, having served, I popped the question to Casey, and anyone that knows Casey knows that was a no-brainer for me to do, and so it was great that that was happening. And, you know, as you know, Brian, I mean, the wedding is, it's the bride, I mean, what she wants, she wants, and so she was looking at a bunch of different things, but her family from Ohio originally, they were just huge Disney people, and her parents had mentioned it, and then they looked at it, so she comes to me and she says, what do you think of Disney? And I had no idea they had a wedding chapel or anything like this, and I'm like, and she says, oh, no, there's a wedding chapel, all this other stuff, and my uncle's a priest, so he can, I can wheel him anywhere, and he performed it for us, and I told her, I says, look, whatever you want, I was like, the only thing I'm putting my foot down on is no Mickey Mouse or any of those people at the wedding. I just need, like, and it was, it was a traditional wedding, very nice, and then we ended up going to, we did the reception at Epcot. Now, what I didn't put in the book was, you know, so we did the cocktail reception outside in one of the Epcot areas, and then we did the full, like, dinner, whatever, in, I think it was the American Experience. The, we didn't know about rain, right?

There was no rain all day, and we get out to the cocktail reception, our guests are having a great time, they've been out there for, like, 30, 45 minutes, because we had been taking pictures, we get out there, Casey and me, newly married couple, within five minutes, the heavens parted, massive downpour, for ten minutes, it only rained ten minutes, and then it stopped, but everyone had to go in, you know, Casey got wet or whatever, and so that was kind of it, but you know, they say that if it rains, it's good luck, and so it ended up happening, and we did, but we always look back and just say, I mean, literally, if the rain would have held off another ten, fifteen minutes, we would have been fine. Little did we ever imagine that, when we got married there, that somehow we would be tussling with them in politics, of all things, because we weren't thinking about politics at all. Second of all, why would you have anything with Disney? I mean, they were like the all-American company, and so it's just ironic how things work out, and when this started to happen, you know, my wife and I just started laughing at each other, because of our history. And then, of course, I get to that part in the book when, you know, you're married there, but then of course in the news now is what's included in there, that we did not know Bob Chapek called you when everything started coming out with your bill, parental rights bill, and people trying to smear it by calling it the don't-say-gay bill, and he said before coming out, Chapek called you and said pressure is building like he's never seen before like this, and one of the reasons is that the new CEO and former CEO Bob Iger came out against it, saying it would make vulnerable LGBTQ people put them in jeopardy, and the pressure began to build among its employees, many of which headquartered in California.

I did not know that. Yeah, so, you know, he, and honestly, I think I always liked him, so I got no beef with him personally. He was a solid guy. We worked together during COVID.

They loved, Disney loved us, because we were open, and they were closed in California. So I actually had a good relationship with the company, and we have a lot of the cast members are my supporters. I mean, these are people that voted me in 18 and 22, but this was something that clearly was rattling the company. I think there were probably some board members who were probably vocal about it, including potentially Iger, but I think his initial instincts, and I quote, there was a New York Post piece about a week before he had called me where he had said publicly, look, we don't want to get involved in politics, and then he kind of got pushed into doing it, and you know, my advice to him was just like, look, and he did say- Forty-eight hours, he said.

Give it 48 hours. Yeah, because I was like, look, and he had problems with the bill. Some of his employees had problems with the bill. I explained it to him, and he got where I was coming from, but I was told to him, I was like, look, when I sign it, there'll be a little kerfuffle, but it'll blow over, and don't worry. You know, you don't have to come out and make a big deal about it, but I think that they felt that they had no choice based on what was happening, but it was the wrong decision, and here's the thing.

When CEOs, when they're being pressured by the left, typically there's not a response from the right, and so their incentives are to genuflect for the left or to cave to the left. Now, that's bad for two reasons. One is, if you do that, then you're basically painting a target on your back. They're going to come after you in the future because they know they get you. If you're able to just hold strong, yes, they may raise a kerfuffle for 48 hours, but then it'll blow over.

They'll go on to the next one, and you're not going to be a good target. And then, of course, for the second reason it was bad is just because we in Florida were in a situation where they enjoyed incredibly special treatment that no other company or individual has ever enjoyed in the history. They had their own government, and then I actually just signed the law to formally strip them of their government, but they had their own government. They were treated so much better than SeaWorld, Universal, and any other individual or company in Florida, and it's like, okay, you've been put on this pedestal. The state is basically joined at the hip with you, and yes, you have a right to get involved in politics if you want, but really, is that the right judgment to go after the parents' rights bill, which really, Brian, I know the media made a big deal about it and some of the activists, but the average parent in Florida that's got a kid in elementary school, doesn't matter if it's Democrat, Republican, or independent.

They want math and science and reading to be the focus. They don't want teachers involved in this type of stuff, and so it was a huge miscalculation, but it also forced us to start looking at the company more, give them more scrutiny. You saw some of the executives on the videos that came out shortly thereafter talking about it was their goal to inject sexuality in the programming for the young kids, and so here I am sitting there, yes, the governor of Florida, but also a dad. I've got a 6 of 4 and a 2-year-old, and when I was growing up, we didn't have to worry about Disney.

That was a place that you wanted your kids to go or the program you wanted to watch. And so we all felt, I think, not just me, but the people in the legislature, like, you know, we can't have this special arrangement with the company that's going in that direction, and so, you know, that led to kind of where we are today. Right, a couple of things. Has Bob Iger reached out and tried to undo this and fix it? I haven't talked to him, and here's the thing, like, the self-governing, that's done. They're not getting that back. Doesn't matter who calls.

Yeah, it doesn't matter. I mean, because here's the thing, Brian, it is unjustifiable at this point. I mean, it's one thing they did it in the 60s, it was still a sweetheart deal, but there was nobody else there at the time.

It was barren land. Now you've got all this activity, you've got other businesses, and it should be a level playing field, but I think really what they just need to do is go back to Walt's vision, make sure it's family-friendly, don't hijack your programming to try to impose a woke agenda. Ultimately, that's not good for our country or society, but it's also not good for your bottom line. So the book is called The Courage to Be Free, Florida's blueprint for America's revival, so you believe other states can do this, you believe the country can benefit, even though now it was a purple state, maybe a Republican state now. There are other states like California and Illinois, they're never going to buy into some of the things, and you're going to get huge pushback from their governors or anything.

The blueprint won't work everywhere. Wouldn't you agree? Well, here's what I'd say. I mean, I'm not blind to the fact that in California there are twice as many Democrats as Republicans, and so I think it's a big hill to climb, but what I would tell you what we did in Florida is, you know, I came in and won by 32,000 votes in 2018. In 2022, I won by 1.5 million. I won Miami-Dade County, our biggest county, 2.8 million people, 70% Latino.

I won it by double digits. And so we were able to get working class voters from a variety of backgrounds to support us and support us very strongly. So you look at a place like California, I don't think that could happen overnight, but I think that there's a lot of demographics there that reject the woke ideology. I think that they care about education. I think they want safe streets. I think they want a lot of the things that Florida's done.

So what I would tell people is, Rome wasn't built in a day, but I absolutely think you can make gains in those areas. But think about, Brian, what those governors do. They spend half their time preoccupied with Florida, and they ignore a lot of the problems that they have. I mean, they're attacking me, seems like every other day. And so that should tell you something, because I don't have to go and attack other governors.

I focus on doing my job. The fact that they're always attacking me shows you that Florida is leading the way, and they do view our model as a threat to their ideology. Governor, as soon as I closed the book, I said, this guy's running for president. This seems to be a blueprint to run for president, because if I look at your career and if I look at what you say, you don't just say this was good for today.

This is good for families. This is good for a state. This is good for a country. You were concerned about the country from the day you stepped onto the campus of Yale, reinforced at Harvard, fought for it in Iraq.

Am I wrong to assume that there's an excellent chance of running for president? So what I would say is we've got a lot of support. A lot of people want us to do it. I've got business to attend to. This book is part of that. My legislative session is part of that. So we get on the end of that in a couple months.

We'll be able to see where it goes. But I do think it's not all just about who ends up running for president. That's important, because I think nationally we need a change in direction. But I think our individual states do have the capacity to drive the national agenda. You know, Florida drove the national agenda on so many things, on having kids in school during COVID, on opposing the employer Vax mandates and things like that.

Education, we've led the way. I like to see a competition amongst all the red states about who can kind of outdo each other. So I do think it's a blueprint for other states.

I do think it can be applied nationally. But it's less about me than about, I think, the underlying principles that we need to restore our country. I read the whole thing, not one disparaging word about President Trump. Are you guys speaking now? Do you plan on speaking to him? He seems to be taking some shots at you.

No. I mean, look, I mean, it's silly season. I mean, you know how some of this stuff goes. And obviously he does his thing. And it's just that's kind of kind of kind of who he is. But what I wanted to do was was just give an honest appraisal of kind of how we got to this point, the failures of the D.C. Republican establishment and how Donald Trump was speaking to things that some of the old guard refused to address.

And that's just a fact. And, you know, he can say what he wants about me. I always give him credit for the things that he did that were positive. And I'm appreciative of a lot of the things that he did. Doesn't mean I agree with everything that he's doing lately or whatever. But ultimately, it's about delivering for the people you represent and delivering for the country.

So I wasn't really into kind of trying to throw potshots at anybody. My thing was just kind of explaining my approach to leadership, the issues we've tackled in Florida and how we've been able to see really unprecedented success for our state. Yeah, I just want to say the New York Times did a review of your book. Here's a quote.

The courage to be free is courageously free of anything that resembles charisma or discernible sense of humor. While his first book was weird and esoteric enough to obviously been written by a human, this one reads like a politician's memoir turned out by Chad GBT. Your thoughts? You who? Chad GBT?

The virtual? I don't even. Oh, yeah. Yeah, right.

Yeah, no. Well, I think that the thing is, is a lot of the critics will say, oh, someone else wrote it for him or whatever. And I wrote it.

I mean, that's just that's just a fact. And, you know, my my thing was not necessarily to, you know, try to do stories or gossip. Because, you know, that's a lot of the stuff that people like that do. I mean, they do like anonymous sources.

They try to gossip. You know, we didn't need to do that. I mean, we're just talking about substance and we're just laying out the blueprint.

Governor, I know you got to run. You told the story. So it's a good story.

It's certainly be a best seller. I look forward to seeing you next week as we walk through your sports past. OK. Thanks so much. Go get them, Governor. The name of the book, The Courage to Be Free, Florida's blueprint for America's revival. These are the stories that keep you up at night.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-28 14:18:34 / 2023-02-28 14:26:51 / 8

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