Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom attempted to comfort Florida students of a college transformed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ conservative appointments during a recent visit to the Sunshine State on Wednesday, the Sarasota Herald Tribune reported.
Newsom met with nearly two dozen New College of Florida (NCF) students and faculty near the campus to speak against DeSantis’ policies which have largely targeted higher education and put the small, liberal arts school in the spotlight, the Herald Tribune reported. DeSantis appointed six conservative members to the board of trustees in January who, soon after, terminated the college president, voted to ax a college department dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion and prohibited diversity statements.
“I want you to know you’re not alone, you matter, we care,” Newsom told students, according to the Herald Tribune.
He said that DeSantis has a “zest for demonization and othering people” and has threatened progress made toward “voting rights, on civil rights, LGBTQ rights, abortion rights [and] contraceptive rights,” the Herald Tribune reported. He told the students that while DeSantis has an “us vs. them mentality” and has been “bullying and intimidating vulnerable communities,” the students are “on the right side of history” and have a “moral authority.”
His visit was part of his current tour through red states to tout Democratic candidates and oppose governors he says are “authoritarian leaders,” NBC Bay Area reported. He began his Campaign for Democracy political action committee using $10 million in leftover funding from his 2022 gubernatorial campaign, during which he secured reelection over Republican candidate Brian Dahle.
The Democratic governor specifically targeted Republican Govs. Sarah Huckabee Sanders of Arkansas, Greg Abbott of Texas and DeSantis in a video announcing the committee, according to NBC Bay Area. He cited book bans and policies aimed toward transgender minors.
“What’s happening in those red states?” Newsom asked, according to NCA Bay Area. “That’s not who we are. It’s un-American. It’s un-democratic.”
Bryan Griffin, DeSantis’ press secretary, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that Newsom’s visit was a “stunt.”
“Governor DeSantis is focused on getting Florida’s public institutions of higher learning refocused on academics and truth. Stunts from political opponents don’t matter and have no effect,” he said. “Also, it’s interesting that the state of California has banned its employees from visiting Florida, but Governor Newsom traveled here anyways for his stunt. He seems to exhibit a pattern of behavior like this.”
Newsom and NCF did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
This article has been updated with comment from Ron DeSantis’ press secretary Bryan Griffin.
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