A heckler called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis a “fucking fascist” while the Republican presidential nominee hopeful spoke about his state’s controversial education policies at a campaign rally in South Carolina on Friday.
At the event in Lexington, DeSantis was describing legislation he signed in Florida making it easier for parents to challenge books in school libraries they deem to be pornographic or deal improperly with racial issues, as well as imposing restrictions on the teaching of race, gender and LGBTQ issues.
He was then interrupted briefly by the protester, who drew boos from the crowd.
“What about the parents’ rights to healthcare, to their kids’ healthcare? You’re a fucking fascist,” the woman said.
DeSantis replied: “Yeah, well, thank you, thank you.”
“We’re not gonna let you impose an agenda on our kids. We’re gonna stand up for our kids. We’re gonna make sure to do it right,” DeSantis said, to cheers from the crowd of supporters.
“Those people like that in Florida are the people we beat every single day on policy. We do not let them win. We win all these battles. We’re not letting them indoctrinate our kids, not on our watch,” he added, to the applause and cheers of the crowd.
DeSantis embarked on a whirlwind tour over the past few days, which has included stops in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina to shore up support.
In his time as governor, DeSantis sent dozens of immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast to draw attention to the influx of Latin American immigrants trying to cross the US-Mexico border. He signed and then expanded the Parental Rights in Education bill — known by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bans instruction or classroom discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in Florida public schools for all grades.
More recently, he signed a law banning abortions at six weeks, which is before most women realize they’re pregnant. And he removed an elected prosecutor who vowed not to charge people under Florida’s new abortion restrictions or doctors who provide gender-affirming care.
DeSantis also signed a law this year allowing Florida residents to carry concealed firearms without a permit. He pushed new measures that critics warn would weaken press freedoms. He also took control of a liberal arts college that he believed was indoctrinating students with leftist ideology.
The governor’s highest-profile political fight has come against the Florida entertainment giant Disney, which publicly opposed his “Don’t Say Gay” law. In retaliation, DeSantis seized control of Disney World’s governing body and installed loyalists who are threatening to take over park planning, among other extraordinary measures.
DeSantis has also threatened to build a state prison adjacent to park property.
DeSantis tails his chief rival, former president Donald Trump by 30 points in opinion polling. Both men are portraying themselves as the stronger fighter for conservative causes and their party’s best chance to block US President Joe Biden from reelection next year.