“People vote with their feet,” he said at a press briefing at the Cape Coral High School on July 8. “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,” he added.
DeSantis made the remarks in response to a 30-second ad campaign that newsom launched around the July 4 holiday, rallying Sunshine State residents to move to California, a state he said still “believe[s] in freedom.”
“Freedom is under attack in your state,” Newsom said in the 30-second ad that aired on Fox News targeting the state’s legislative acts, such as a 15-week abortion ban and a bill barring classroom instruction on sexual orientation in kindergarten through grade 3.
Both Newsom and DeSantis face gubernatorial reelections this November. The ad has fueled speculation that Newsom is positioning himself as a contender in the 2024 presidential race, although the governor himself has disavowed such intentions. DeSantis, while enjoying growing support among Republican voters, hasn’t said if he will run.
“Everyone wants to talk about me and Florida,” DeSantis said at the Friday press briefing when asked about Newsom’s Florida ad. “I’m just sitting here, little old me, doing my job.”
He took a swipe at the California governor’s apparent violation of his own pandemic restrictions, noting that Newsom had dined at the $350-per-person French Laundry restaurant even when the state was in lockdown.
It was “to basically rub his citizens’ noses in the fact that he was treating them like peasants,” said DeSantis.
Newsom later apologized for attending the 12-person dinner, calling it “a bad mistake.”
Despite the California governor’s call for Floridians to join his state, DeSantis noted that the traffic appears to be going in the other direction.
By Eva Fu