DeSantis proud Florida is ‘where woke goes to die,’ Crist accuses him of focusing on 2024 presidential run

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has thrown down the culture war gauntlet and proclaimed Florida the place where “woke goes to die,” but his opponent accused him of using the governor’s office as a launchpad for a 2024 presidential bid. 

“I think what Floridians want is somebody who’s got their back, not focusing on running for president in 2024, as we know Gov. DeSantis is attempting to do,” Charlie Crist, Florida’s Democratic candidate for governor, said Saturday on Fox News’ “Cavuto Live.”

DeSantis instead has focused his campaign on the bills he passed this year to help combat “wokeness,” which he argued was a threat to institutions in the country. 

“What you see with wokeness is driving people to take down statues of Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson – trying to rewrite our history,” DeSantis said during a rally in Pensacola, Florida, earlier this week. “You have wokeness driving people to try to convince us that men can get pregnant.”

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis before the start of a game between the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators at TIAA Bank Field Oct. 29, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla.
(James Gilbert/Getty Images)

DeSantis has focused on a number of socially-driven initiatives in his state during the run-up to midterms.

Last week, the Florida Board of Medicine and the state Board of Osteopathic Medicine voted to proceed with a plan that will prevent anyone under the age of 18 from receiving sex-reassignment surgery or taking hormones. 

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And earlier this year, DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill, which critics labeled as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. It bans teachers from giving classroom instruction on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” in kindergarten through third grade. 

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist participate in a live audience debate hosted by local CBS affiliate WEPC Oct. 24, 2022.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist participate in a live audience debate hosted by local CBS affiliate WEPC Oct. 24, 2022.
(Screenshot/WFLA)

The bill faces a new legal challenge after plaintiffs this week filed a revised challenge that claimed the law violated key precedents and the First Amendment. 

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Florida also passed a 15-week abortion ban, though it faces legal challenged as well after a state judge moved to try and block the law. 

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist during the Florida debate in Fort Pierce, Fla., Oct. 24, 2022.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist during the Florida debate in Fort Pierce, Fla., Oct. 24, 2022.
(Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Crist accused DeSantis of pushing “partisan politics” of a “wannabe dictator,” according to KFOX 14. He accused DeSantis of putting “partisan politics over the needs of our school kids” and making schools part of a “MAGA culture war agenda.” 

DeSantis argued that “wokeness” will “destroy this country” and insisted Florida needs to keep “pushing back against it to get it out.”

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“We’re going to stand up for the truth, we’re going to stand up for the core principles that made this country great. And our state is the state where woke goes to die,” DeSantis said at his rally. 

Fox News’ Emma Colton contributed to this report.  

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