Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took a jab at former president Donald Trump in Iowa on Saturday, warning Republican voters that the party needs to “reject the culture of losing” if they want to wrestle power back from Democrats in 2024.
DeSantis, who is expected to officially launch his bid for the White House any day, did not directly name Trump in his speech but clearly alluded to the leading Republican candidate.
“Governing is not about entertaining. Governing is not about building a brand or talking on social media and virtue signaling,’” said DeSantis at a fundraising event in Sioux Center. “It’s ultimately about winning and producing results.”
The Florida governor has emerged as the most formidable threat to Donald Trump’s securing the GOP nomination. He’s presented himself to voters as a staunch conservative without Trump’s distinctive abrasiveness.
Trump was scheduled to host his own Iowa event Saturday in Des Moines, but canceled the event due to a tornado warning.
While Trump and his campaign have raged against DeSantis, the governor has been hesitant to criticize the ex-president who endorsed his gubernatorial campaign in 2018.
DeSantis told voters that in order for conservatives to secure victories in the upcoming elections, they need to remain focused on the issues and “reject the culture of losing,” appearing to reference Biden’s 2020 election victory over Trump.
“We must reject the culture of losing that has impacted our party in recent years. The time for excuses is over,” DeSantis told prospective voters.
“If we get distracted, if we focus the election on the past or on other side issues, then I think the Democrats are going to beat us again.”
During DeSantis’ remarks — which was essentially an early campaign speech — he told the conservative crowd that he would shut down the southern border “immediately” in light of the current crisis sparked by the end of Title 42.
He also pledged to continue his fight against teaching “transgender ideology” in schools and ending gender-reassignment surgery for children, touting his own record on the issues in his home state. He also highlighted his ongoing fight with Disney.
On Friday, the pro-DeSantis super PAC “Never Back Down” announced 37 endorsements from Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate on Friday, which include Senate President Amy Sinclair and House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl.
The endorsements, which represent over one-third of the total number of GOP lawmakers in the Iowa legislature, give DeSantis an early leg-up in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.
Trump, 76, leads DeSantis, 44, by double digits in most recent 2024 GOP primary polling, however, when matched up against President Biden, the Florida governor performs better than the former president in some surveys.
A WPA intelligence survey released last month found Trump losing the popular vote to Biden by an average of 3.1%, while DeSantis would defeat the incumbent by an average of 1.2%.