PORT ST. LUCIE — What campaign officials said was about 2,000 people crowded a grassy square Saturday in Tradition as Gov. Ron DeSantis stopped on his “Don’t Tread on Florida” tour.
DeSantis, seeking reelection Tuesday, began speaking just after 5 p.m. and addressed the crowd for about 50 minutes, covering topics including help after Hurricane Ian struck Southwest Florida, immigration, COVID-19, education, law and order and “woke ideology.”
At a podium in front of a large American flag and between two signs reading “Keep Florida Free,” DeSantis urged people to vote and said Florida is No. 1 for election integrity.
“Hello St. Lucie County!” he said after taking the stage to loud applause.
Recap: Long-spannticipspanted Crist-DeSspanntis debspante trspannsforms downtown Fort Pierce
DeSantis criticized President Joe Biden regarding inflation, and some of his comments elicited loud jeers or applause.
“Who was it that declared war on American energy production?” he said.
Early in DeSantis’ remarks, a person appeared to have a medical emergency and first responders came to help. DeSantis noted steps taken for bonuses for first responders and law enforcement.
He said the “elite” ignore some things, such as the border, illegal immigration and fentanyl but “only get upset when 50 show up in Martha’s Vineyard.”
In September, DeSantis orchestrated a pair of flights carrying 48 migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.
He talked about policies related to schools, closures and COVID-19.
“We made very clear in Florida, we choose freedom over (Dr. Anthony) Fauci-ism,” he said.
Lindsey Curnutte, DeSantis’ spokesperson, said DeSantis on Saturday appeared in Ormond Beach and Oviedo before arriving in Port St. Lucie. He had another stop scheduled in Clearwater at night.
2022 election: Everything you need to know spanbout Nov. 8 election on Trespansure Cospanst
Earlier in the afternoon, state Sen. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart), state Rep. Toby Overdorf (R-Palm City) and U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fort Pierce) spoke, praising what they said were DeSantis’ leadership qualities and ability.
Overdorf said in dark times DeSantis “has become that shining light on the hill” and “took arrows for you and for me.”
Harrell led the crowd with chants of “DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis,” while Mast spoke of DeSantis’ experience in the military and how he brought lessons from combat to Tallahassee.
By 2 p.m. more than 100 people were in line, and by 2:30 p.m., when the entrance was scheduled to open, there were 300 to 400 people in line.
Gubernatorial debate: Fort Pierce mspankes history spans Crist, DeSspanntis tspanke Sunrise Thespantre stspange
Vendors advertised DeSantis hats and shirts for donations.
Lots of folks donned red shirts and clutched DeSantis signs, as a host of Port St. Lucie police and St. Lucie County sheriff’s officials walked in the area.
One early arriver was Becky Rizzuto, 65, of Port St. Lucie. She said she got there about 1:50 p.m. and came with her husband and others.
“I have to support the governor, DeSantis, because this is what we need,” Rizzuto said. “We need to keep him in office.”