Crist Puts DeSantis’ Feet to the Fire

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Tonight, during the first and only debate in the race for governor, Governor Ron DeSantis spent the majority of his time on stage lying about and bashing his opponent Congressman Charlie Crist and President Joe Biden while failing to offer meaningful solutions to lower costs for Floridians, secure energy independence, or create jobs in the state. DeSantis insisted that he was proud of how he handled Hurricane Ian, the deadliest and possibly the most costly storm in state history. DeSantis also failed to take accountability for rising utility bills driven by corporate greed and profiteering, offering no meaningful policy solutions to lower costs for Floridians.

Charlie Crist painted Governor DeSantis as an extremist who is more concerned with what’s going on in places like California and New York than in Florida. During the hour-long debate, DeSantis refused to say whether he would commit to serving a full term if reelected or if his presidential ambitions would cause him to leave early. Even during his current term as governor, DeSantis has focused more on what’s going on in Washington than what he can do to improve the quality of life for Floridians.

Here are some key moments from the debate:

  • Crist called out DeSantis’ failed leadership in the face of Hurricane Ian, noting that the governor failed to effectively prepare for the storm. 
    • Crist said, “What happened is, this storm was approaching Florida – one of the biggest storms in the history of our state, the most deadly storm in the modern history of Florida. And what was Governor DeSantis doing? The Friday night before it made landfall, he went to a football game. He was AWOL for almost 24 hours. Didn’t encourage Lee County to evacuate and as a result 100 people [lost] their lives. That’s not a good record and that’s not good leadership. And Florida deserves better.”
    • While DeSantis said he responded effectively to Ian, he didn’t deny that there was more that he could have done to prevent mass casualties. He boasted power was restored in record time thanks to his leadership. Over two million Floridians were without power for several days after Ian made landfall and more than 180,000 remained in the dark for over a week after Ian made landfall.
      • Had DeSantis invested in upgrading the state’s outdated grid to withstand the wrath of climate change, it is likely these outages would have been far less widespread and long lasting.  
      • In fact, one community in Florida that is fully solar powered was able to avoid any power outages during Ian.
  • DeSantis deflected and shifted blame when asked about rising costs under his leadership. 
    • When asked what he would do to tackle the rising cost of property insurance, DeSantis shirked responsibility, shifting the blame to Biden and Crist, while ignoring his own role as governor. Rising property insurance costs are closely tied to the worsening climate crisis, which DeSantis still denies. Denial is not a policy solution and it leaves Flordians extremely vulnerable. 
      • While DeSantis tried to put the focus on Biden and Congress, Crist repeatedly brought the conversation back to Florida and DeSantis’ lack of leadership.
    • Crist called DeSantis’s short-lived gas tax holiday a political stunt ahead of Election Day, noting that the governor failed to offer any long-term solutions to aid Floridians.   
    • While DeSantis refused to accept responsibility for the high prices crushing Floridians, Crist called him out, saying “our inflation is too high under [the governor’s] leadership.” 
      • The truth is, DeSantis could do many things to lower costs for his constituents, from expanding clean energy to regulating utilities and more. He just chooses not to. 
      • Crist highlighted how DeSantis prefers to spend constituents’ hard-earned money on political stunts to elevate his national profile, like flying immigrants – many of them Venezuelans – including a one year old, from Florida to Martha’s Vineyard.
  • DeSantis was forced to confront his anti-science, anti-fact record.  
    • Throughout the night Crist made it clear that DeSantis has a long history of lying and bending the facts when it’s politically expedient. Crist noted,  “Whether it comes to COVID or the hurricane, Ron ignored science. He thinks he knows better than everybody.”
    • DeSantis remains a climate denier, even after climate change has repeatedly devastated Florida. They say money talks and it seems to talk to DeSantis much louder than science. He has taken nearly a million dollars in campaign contributions from Big Oil.