- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Billing Florida as a “promised land of sanity,” Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed Tuesday in his second inaugural address to fight to defend freedom and stand up against the “woke ideology” that has taken hold in cities and states across the country.

“We seek normalcy, not philosophical lunacy,” Mr. DeSantis said. “We will not allow reality, facts and truth to become optional. We will never surrender to the woke mob.

“Florida is where woke goes to die,” he said.

Mr. DeSantis cruised to victory in the November election, winning by 19 points and leading a GOP lineup that won races up and down the ticket. 

The 44-year-old is now thought to be laying the groundwork for a presidential run. Polls show he is best positioned to challenge former President Donald Trump for the nomination. 

In his second inaugural speech, Mr. DeSantis provided a glimpse into the message for a possible White House race, criticizing the federal government and liberal policies and heralding Florida as a beacon of hope for freedom-loving Americans.

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“Over the past few years, as so many states in our country were grinding our citizens down, we in Florida lifted our people up,” he said. “When other states consigned their people’s freedoms to the dustbin, Florida stood strongly as freedom’s linchpin.”

“When the world lost its mind, when common sense suddenly became an uncommon virtue, Florida was a refuge of sanity. A citadel of freedom for fellow Americans and even for people around the world.”

Mr. DeSantis’ addressed supporters after he took the oath of office just before noon on the steps of Florida’s Capitol. His wife and children were at this side.

Mr. DeSantis said the midterm election showed that voters — including the flood of transplants who moved to Florida — approved of the moves he has made to reduce taxes and regulations, empower parents in education, and support law enforcement.

“We are far from done,” Mr. DeSantis said, extolling the state’s low taxes, parental rights and educational institutions that are free of “trendy ideologies.”

“We choose to navigate the boisterous sea of liberty rather than cower in the calm docks of despotism,” he said. “We face a task, we take hits, but we weather the storms, we stand our ground and we do what is right.”

The Democratic National Committee marked the occasion by warning Mr. DeSantis wants to strip away abortion rights.

“In his desperate chase for the MAGA base, Ron DeSantis is setting the tone for his second term by vowing to sign an even more extreme abortion ban, bailing out special interests while raising costs on Floridians, and promising to go after health care providers,” the DNC said in a statement. “As the 2024 GOP primary shapes up, it’s clear Republicans will race to out-MAGA each other, and DeSantis is no different.”

Mr. DeSantis did not mention abortion in his remarks.

Florida Democratic Party spokesman Gricel Gonzalez said the governor was a failure.

“During his first term Ron DeSantis made Florida more expensive, housing less affordable, and corporate industries richer while distracting Floridians with divisive culture wars. His second term promises more of the same,” Ms. Gonzalez said.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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