DeSantis protesters, supporters at Midland GOP event

A potential presidential candidate paid a visit to mid-Michigan Thursday morning, April 6.
Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 5:23 PM EDT
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MIDLAND CO., Mich. (WNEM) - A potential presidential candidate paid a visit to mid-Michigan Thursday morning, April 6.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had breakfast with the Midland GOP discussing Florida’s successes and controversial changes. Some say his ideologies are not welcomed in Michigan.

Related: GOP’s DeSantis visits Whitmer’s Michigan, the ‘anti-Florida’

“I bring greetings from the free state of Florida,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis spoke Thursday morning at a Midland County GOP event ahead of a highly anticipated presidential announcement. DeSantis boasted about his recent victories in Florida and how those should serve as a roadmap for Republicans nationwide.

“We’re number one in new business formations, we’re number one amongst large states in GDP growth, we’re number one in education freedom, we’re number one in parental involvement in education. We have no state income taxes in the state of Florida, you should try it sometime, it works out pretty well,” DeSantis said.

The comparison of education levels between Florida and Michigan was a reoccurring theme for DeSantis. A report from Michigan State University’s Education Policy Innovation Collaborative found that in the Spring of 2022, nearly 6 percent of third graders received test scores that made them eligible to repeat the grade.

“It was mentioned Michigan scores on the NAEP, on us for fourth-grade reading, fourth-grade math, Florida ranked number three and four in the country respectively on the 2002 Nation’s Report Card,” DeSantis said.

About 120 protesters also showed up to voice their opposition to DeSantis’ ideologies.

“It seems that across the U.S. there is this agenda to attack public education and dismantle public education as well as to take us back to an era that is pre-Civil War. And I am standing here today with Michigan to let him know that’s not welcomed here,” Michigan State Board of Education President Pamela Pugh said.

“If Florida is where ‘woke’ goes to die, ‘woke’ is alive and well in Michigan because we care about our LGBTQ citizens. We care about women’s reproductive freedom; we care about people’s rights to actually be free to live and say what they believe in,” protester Allison Wilcox said.

Others expressed their support for the Sunshine State’s leader.

“I think Gov. DeSantis is a model of how bold conservative leadership can win and can move a state in the right direction,” Michigan Rep. Bill G. Schuette said.

DeSantis is one of the top potential candidates looking to unseat President Joe Biden next year. He is also scheduled to speak at Hillsdale College, a small, Christian classical liberal arts college in southern Michigan.

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