LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis headlined the 2023 Basque Fry on Saturday, making him the first 2024 presidential candidate to visit Nevada. He was introduced by his former roommate, former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt.
In a 51-minute speech, DeSantis criticized COVID-19 policies and teaching critical race theory in classrooms, committed to shutting down the Southern border and building a wall, and promised an overhaul of the FBI if elected president.
We can't let our country descend into some type of dumpster fire of woke ideology, and that's not going to happen on my watch," DeSantis said in his speech.
DeSantis's speech portrayed the U.S. as a country in decline and Florida as a model for the nation's future.
"We had a red wave in Florida, we showed what it means to win and win big for the first time in our states since the era of the Civil War. There's not one single Democrat elected to statewide office, that is called winning," he said.
Nevada Democrats held a news conference Friday in anticipation of the Republican fundraiser, denouncing DeSantis's policies on abortion, social security and Medicare.
“Ron DeSantis’s record has shown to be one of the extreme conservative Republicans in the party," Democratic Reno Vice Mayor and At-Large City Councilmember Devon Reese told reporters.
In a one-on-one interview with KSNV, DeSantis said, "If you look at what's happened with the Democratic Party, you know, this is not the Democratic Party of like John F. Kennedy. You have woke ideology that's really taken over. So they've really done a lot of extreme things."
DeSantis did not mention his political rival, former President Donald Trump, by name on stage during his speech. KSNV asked DeSantis why Nevada voters, 40% of whom are either independent or non-partisan, should vote for him instead of Trump.
I'm more likely- likely to win the election against Joe Biden, which is very important," he said. "We just won Florida by 20 points, which no one thought was possible even a few years ago. I think I'm also more reliable on policy. When I say I'll do something, I will do it."
DeSantis brought his wife Casey DeSantis and three children on the campaign trail and visited the Reno Rodeo Friday night.