RUSH: Okay. We want to take some time here and welcome to the program the Republican governor candidate — candidate for governor — state of Florida, Ron DeSantis, fresh off an appearance at a rally on the west coast of Florida last night with President Trump. Welcome to the program, Mr. DeSantis. How are you doing today?
DESANTIS: Oh, Rush, I’m doing great. And, you know, I know you don’t issue degrees from the Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies, but when I become governor, I would love to hang something in the governor’s mansion.
RUSH: (chuckling) We’ll give you one!
DESANTIS: All right.
RUSH: We’ll give you the first honorary degree. That would be one heck of an achievement for somebody who attended the institute. That’s a worthwhile thing to do. Hey, we’ve got a lot to talk about here today, and I want to first start… Describe for me the Trump rally last night. What’s it like being in the midst of that crowd and that kind of…? I mean, it looks to us watching like these things are just filled with upbeat optimism, energy, and appreciation.
DESANTIS: Oh, yeah. I mean, it’s unlike anything I’ve seen — and really even unlike during his campaign. And he had… You know, he had big rallies in 2016. I went to a number of them and introduced him in Florida during the general election. But right now, I think he’s got folks locked in. They are very excited about the direction that the country’s going, and we’re actually seeing that in the voting numbers.
You know, the media says there’s this blue wave in Florida. We’ve outvoted the Democrats so far in early and absentee vote by almost 2%. We’re almost always behind at this point and then we come in big on Election Day. But I think we’re actually going ahead of projections, which is a real good sign, and I think the president really inserting himself into the midterms like this is one of the reasons why people are so energized.
RUSH: Well, it’s fascinating. The media is attempting to make these midterm elections — which are separate and different from one another — a referendum on President Trump, which, to me, is a dangerous thing to do. He’s still very popular with the 60 million people voted for him. If they’re gonna urge this to be a referendum on Trump, then they’re just inviting Trump supporters to show up and vote the way Trump would want them to vote. And in that way, it could argue against this whole idea that there is a blue wave. And your statistics about absentee and early voters? That’s very unusual for Republicans to be ahead in either category anywhere, but particularly here.
DESANTIS: Yeah, and if you look at the composition of the early and absentee from both sides, our voters are made up of a smaller percentage of the “super voters” who are gonna vote anyways, and so we’ve been able to bring in some folks into the process. And I think a lot of those people who hadn’t voted in midterms previously, I think those are the Trump voters who are now regular voters that he’s brought into the Republican fold. And so that allows us to really expand the electorate in a midterm election certainly in a way that the media is not anticipating.
RUSH: Uh, nor desiring. It’s a little bit of both. Now, let’s… By the way, if you’re just joining us, I’m speaking with Ron DeSantis, who is the Republican gubernatorial candidate here in Florida. Let’s talk about Florida, and before we get to your opponent specifically, what is going on in Florida that needs to be improved, needs to be fixed? What’s wrong? What’s good? Basically, why do you want to take this on?
DESANTIS: Because I’m the guy that can lead and protect Florida’s future, particularly protect our economic momentum. We’ve never had an economy as good as we’ve had right now, and a lot of Floridians are enjoying that. But we have not reached our potential. When we did the federal tax bill and got rid of the special subsidy for the high-tax states where they used to able to deduct their high state income tax, that has given Florida the best competitive advantage we’ve probably ever had.
I think when I become governor and people start having to fill out those taxes in the high-tax states, that’s gonna accelerate the growth of investment into Florida. So you’re gonna see financial services, technology, manufacturing really boom. That’s higher paying jobs in a broader based economy. And we’re primed for it. And it really is a historic opportunity, and so we need to build off the success we’ve had under Governor Scott. And look, Rush, we’ve obviously had issues.
I mean, we’ve gotta deal with transportation ’cause we have people movin’ here. We’ve gotta deal with water quality. We’ve had problems in Lake Okeechobee. We gotta clean that up. We gotta do stuff with the Everglades, all that stuff. And we will get that done. But you have to maintain Florida’s economic trajectory, because if you embrace left-wing policies, high taxes, that’s gonna shut all this down and then we’re gonna be going down the road of the Illinoises? and the Connecticuts, which constantly raise taxes, end up with more budget problems, and it’s a vicious cycle that never really solves itself.
RUSH: It really is a key. You know, 20 years ago the list of things that define Florida’s opportunity and success… Twenty years ago, those would have been slam-dunk automatics. Anybody who can claim to be responsible for helping make those things reality, anybody who could say that they had a hand in it, would have such a leg up in winning an election or winning reelection. But today the left has created so many people that they call victims.
That then makes them not responsible for their own lives. Their own lives then exist politically in trying to get the Democrats to seek revenge against Republicans or others who are responsible for the plight these people are in. The consequences are that they have built and are attempting to build an ever-expanding welfare state of people who feel entitled to benefits and what have you, simply because they have been discriminated against for years and years, decades or whatever. And that is happening.
The Democrats and left are attempting to establish this as their base all over the country, including in Florida. So how is your message being received? You’re talking about a standard Reagan/Trump conservative message, you’re talking about self-reliance, you’re talking about rugged individualism, family values, people taking care of each other in the local community, charity from churches and so forth. You are talking about the great aspects of tax policy and the impact on the economy. How’s it being received to people when you make speeches in areas where people may not be already on your side? Does it get through to them? Does the message resonate with them?
DESANTIS: We’re seeing that. I mean, I’m in Miami-Dade County right now. We have really strong Republican turnout down here. This is a big Democrat county. We’re on track to really over-perform here, which is great for a Republican to do. I think you’re seeing that in other areas as well. We’ve got work to do between now and Tuesday to make sure we’re getting out all our voters in all parts of this state. But at the end of the day, I think that we’ve had very strong momentum over the last several weeks.
I was able to debate Andrew Gillum twice last week, and that was very positive for us because people saw that this guy, you know, has an agenda that just is not good for Florida and also just won’t work. I mean, you mentioned all the different spending programs. He wants to spend so much money that the nonpartisan James Madison Institute calculated it and analyzed it and said, “Okay, in Florida you have to have a balanced budget.
“So in order to pay for his agenda he would need to either impose a sales tax statewide of 38% or he would need to impose a state income tax in Florida,” and if you go down either of those roads, Florida’s economy is done, the opportunity is done. And so with a guy like me, we will never have a state income tax; we will not have tax increases. And, you know, Rush, you’re a good example of that. I mean, you came down partially because of the taxes. You were getting killed in New York. So you’re now at the Southern Command, and guess what? You go out to dinner, you tip people, you buy a new car, you do all that. How much have you contributed to our economy in the 20 years you’ve been down there?
RUSH: Probably half of it.
DESANTIS: That replicates itself over and over again, and so, you know, I’m trying to promote a virtuous cycle of as you have lower taxes and a better economic climate, you’re drawing more investment. And then the government ends up actually getting more revenue anyways because the economy’s broader and the economy’s growing more.
RUSH: See, that’s the thing. That’s what exposes them. They don’t really care about the revenue, Governor. I’ve been calling him “governor” on the golf course for about six months here and I can’t get out of the habit.
RUSH: They don’t care about the revenue! What you just said is true. It’s being proven nationally with the Trump tax cuts. It happened in the eighties. It’s happening now. You reduce tax rates; you create more taxpayers by upping employment. You create more revenue flowing to government. Democrats oppose it! They want higher percentages on tax rates. Why? What —
DESANTIS: Well, it’s ideological. I mean, you remember in 2008 when Obama and Hillary were debating and one of the questioners asked Obama, “Hey, Bill Clinton cut the capital gains rate, and they got more revenue. Why would you want to raise it?” And Obama said, “Well, even if you had less revenue, it would be the fair thing to do.” So he wanted to stick it to these guys even if it would have depleted the revenue coming into the Treasury. So yes, it’s very ideological, and the guy I’m running against, Andrew Gillum, I mean, he’s a Bernie Sanders disciple. So he is even to the left of Obama, if you can believe that.
RUSH: It’s about punishing people and it’s about creating as many people dependent on them as possible it happen. It’s reprehensible. It destroys human initiative! These people actually, with their policies, limit human potential rather than promote it. Gotta take a break. Hang on. We’ll be right back. Governor Ron… Well, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis is our guest, and we’ll be right back. Don’t go away.
RUSH: We are back with Ron DeSantis seeking the governorship of Florida for the Republican Party. Polling data. You’re either neck-and-neck or down a point. Rick Scott’s down a couple of points in some of the probably best polling that you have. You guys are both tremendous. Scott has done such a great job as governor, and his opponent is (sigh) tired and worn out and has the only thing going for him is the (D) by his name. Your opponent, Gillum? Man, this guy…
He’s another one of these guys that seems, Mr. DeSantis, who simply cannot be honest about his real agenda intentions because if he were, he wouldn’t have anywhere near the support that he does. And I’m sure you’ve seen the Project Veritas revelations here with secret videos of Gillum’s staff where they’re saying (summarized), “No, no, no, no! That’s not for voters to know. We can’t talk about that right now.” They’re having suppress so much of what he really believes in.
DESANTIS: Oh, yeah.
RUSH: What would happen to this state if this guy got elected? What’s your fear?
DESANTIS: Well, this guy is more radical than Moonbeam Brown in California, more liberal than Cuomo in New York. I mean, he would be the most left-wing governor in the country. He is a true believer. He’s a lifetime politician, never done anything outside of government. He has trained at this left-wing institute out in Oakland with people like Van Jones and Linda Sarsour. He’s funded by George Soros millions of dollars, millions of dollars from Tom Steyer, and he basically is in their pocket, and he would try to turn Florida into a petri dish for far-left activism, and it would be really, really detrimental to the state, and it would be way out of character for our state to ever embrace someone running on such a left-wing agenda.
RUSH: Except do they know? Do the voters know how left-wing Gillum is?
DESANTIS: They’re starting to. They’re starting to. I mean, we have a (unintelligible).
RUSH: And they didn’t… Nobody knew how left-wing Obama was. They hid, that they masked that really well, and it looks like they’re getting away with doing the same thing with this guy.
DESANTIS: Well, his unfavorables have gone up significantly. We were able to hold him accountable in these debates, and so he’s got a significant number of people who strongly disapprove of him now, which is good, and that’s a direction we needed to go. But the media certainly isn’t gonna help us with any of this. I mean, they basically tried to puff him up. They tried to mute criticism, any associations, radical pledges. You know, he signed this pledge with this radical group called “the Dream Defenders,” basically saying that the police in prison should be abolished (chuckles) and that the money should be moved to welfare programs.
And if your listeners want to see this agenda that he signed on to, Google “Dream Defenders Freedom Papers.” And just read it. It’s about 25 pages. As radical as you can be. The economic policy. Wants to get rid of capitalism and replace it with socialist principles so radical, it would make [Venezuelan Dictator] Nicolas Maduro blush. And yet you don’t see exposés on that from the print media here in Florida or the national media. So we know that’s how it’s gonna be and so we’ve done our best to expose him, and I think people have finally gotten the message.
RUSH: Well, I hope so. During the Obama years — and I was just talking about this — the Republicans were basically cowed into silence and apparent acquiescence. You know, young people, they didn’t think the country was divided during Obama because the Republicans dared not criticize him for fear of being called racist. And I think that’s why the Democrats put up so many candidates like this is to cow Republicans and Republican opponents like you into toning down criticism so that you don’t face the charge. But you seem undeterred. You seem willing to take this guy on.
DESANTIS: Oh, yeah, and he got mad at me for calling him “Andrew” in the debates, and I was like, “Okay.” He’s like, “I’ve — I have — I have a title!” and I said, “Well, one, he didn’t serve honorably as mayor because he accepted payments from undercover FBI agents, lobbyists and then done favors for them, and that’s why he’s under investigation.” But I said, “Okay. If you want a proper title, I’ll do it, but I gotta be honest. So I’m willing to call you ‘Failed Mayor Gillum,’ because Tallahassee had the highest number of murderers in its history last year.
“I’m willing to call you ‘Radical Mayor Gillum,’ because you’re aligned with all these left-wing anti-police groups, and I’m willing to, you know, call you ‘Crooked Mayor Gillum’ because you did accept illegal gifts from undercover FBI agent lobbyists, then you did favors for ’em. So if you want to play that game, we’re happy to do it. So I’ve been very tough, and I’ve been, you know, really just telling the truth, which is I think what the voters deserve. But you cannot pull punches. You’ve gotta go all out, because, you know, the left certainly they’ll do whatever they can to destroy me. So you have to fight back.
RUSH: Absolutely. Amen. What…? So the guy took some tickets to Hamilton from an undercover FBI agent. Is that it?
DESANTIS: Yeah. So this guy of posing as a developer looking for some zoning changes for the city of Tallahassee. So he gave Andrew probably two of these tickets worth at least $1,000 apiece. That trip was arranged by a lobbyist who took Andrew to Costa Rica and paid $1,000 dollars for him to stay four nights in a luxury Villa, which is bad. I mean, those are illegal gifts. You’re not allowed to do it. It violates Florida law.
But then what happened was the same lobbyist who set up the New York trip and paid for the Costa Rica vacation wanted $2 million from Tallahassee to build a restaurant, and guess what? After Andrew got his, he turned around and gave the lobbyist the $2 million. The undercover agent who wanted the zoning change? By golly, they got the zoning change. So it’s basically textbook municipal corruption.
RUSH: You’re kidding! All of the…? He literally arranged for, did you say, $2 million?
DESANTIS: Yeah. The same lobbyist who paid for him to go to Costa Rica — which was illegal — and arranged for the Hamilton stuff —
RUSH: If you —
DESANTIS: — got a $2 million contract with the city of Tallahassee to build a restaurant.
RUSH: If you had been caught doing this, they’d be talking about impeaching you.
DESANTIS: Oh, I mean, it would be front page of every newspaper every single day. And here’s the thing. He has the gall to say, “Neither me nor my city of Tallahassee has ever been under investigation. ” Just think about it! What other reason would an undercover FBI agent have to grease his palms unless the agent was investigating him? He’s just lying through his teeth (chuckles) about that and it’s also come out since the initial documents that that same undercover agent underwrote a $4,300 political dinner for Andrew when he was getting ready to run, uh, for governor.
DESANTIS: So he got just from the undercover agent about $5,300 at least in illegal gifts or campaign contributions.
RUSH: Yeah, so, this is about much more than a couple tickets to Hamilton?
DESANTIS: Oh, yeah! It’s about buying influence and what Andrew did in response, and he did take actions that benefited these people.
RUSH: Well (sigh), it’s gotta be frustrating. You’re up against somebody who’s (chuckles) being investigated by the FBI! And you have to be the one to call attention to this. It’s much like the president’s getting 90% negative media coverage. As he says, the only thing he can do to fight back is rip into it because he’s got nobody else helping him. You find yourself in a similar situation?
DESANTIS: Oh, of course! Plus add to the fact that since the president is backing me, that means the national media in particular, they want nothing better than for me to lose. Anybody that they can… Any loss that they can hang around Trump, that’s what they’re doing. So they’re actively trying to help Andrew Gillum. They’re actively trying to hurt me. They’ve spread a lot of fake news, tried to smear me in a bunch of different ways. I think voters understand it’s all garbage, they understand how this works.
But nevertheless that is what they are doing.
But here’s the thing, Rush. People, they get it. Our voters are turning out. Obviously, any of your listeners in Florida who haven’t turned out we need you to come turn out. You can also go to RonDeSantis.com and help us out any way you can. But that is really what it is. You have this media complex, the Democrat-media complex. They are out of touch with American taxpayers and American people who are actually out there working hard. So we can have our voice heard on Tuesday. I have no doubt about that. And you know what? If we gain Senate seats, Iowan the governorship, and we hold on to the House, can you imagine the meltdown that’s gonna happen —
RUSH: Well, yeah.
DESANTIS: — with the media and with the Democrats on Wednesday morning?
RUSH: It’s gonna be more than a meltdown. The caravan will turn around and head the other way.
RUSH: But it’ll be… It could get really dangerous. I mean, there’d be a fit of depression and frustration, Barbra Streisand moving to Canada. It could be bad. Governor… Sorry. Mr. DeSantis — really, that is a slip of the tongue — I’m glad that you gave us this half hour. We’re out of time now, but it’s been great having you here, and all the best to you. A lot of people I think today learned a lot they didn’t know about you and your opponent and what’s at stake here in the race as it relates to the Florida economy.
That’s Ron DeSantis, Republican candidate for governor of Florida.