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Ron DeSantis speaks at conservative conference in Harrisburg

With pundits speculating a potential presidential run, DeSantis touted his successes as Governor of Florida.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis paid a visit to the Keystone State on Saturday afternoon. He gave a keynote speech at the conservative, Pennsylvania Leadership Conference in Harrisburg.

With pundits speculating a potential run for president in 2024, DeSantis touted his success from his five years as governor.

“We took that swing state, that was always one point in either direction, and turned it into a red state," said DeSantis.

DeSantis highlighted the state of the Florida economy and his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he's helped turn Florida into a 'citadel of freedom.'

“We refuse to let our state descend into some Faucian-dystopia, where people’s livelihoods were destroyed, and their freedoms were curtailed," said DeSantis. "No, we chose freedom over Fauci-ism.”

DeSantis also championed his expansion of school-choice programs and banning what he calls ‘left-wing, woke ideology’ from school curriculums.

“We’re not going to teach our kids to hate our country or hate each other, we’re going to treat people as individuals, we’re not going to divvy them up into groups," said DeSantis. "We’re going to teach history that is accurate, not history that is trying to promote a left-wing agenda.”

While Governor DeSantis was met with cheers inside, parents and teachers were demonstrating across the street, opposing the changes he's making in Florida’s public schools and calling out his policies.

Protestors stood opposite the Penn Harris Hotel in Harrisburg as DeSantis addressed the crowd at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference.

Parents and teachers from Florida and Pennsylvania said they stand opposed to DeSantis' politics, namely his tailoring of Florida’s school curriculum and book bans.

“These children will be our future and if they don't know the true history and they are oppressed and are marginalized, what will be the future of our country?” said Ariel Franchak, a Pennsylvania teacher.

“Our students have made clear throughout our state that they want access to books,” added Amanda Pauley of activist group Red Wine & Blue. “They want to see themselves in books. Representation matters. Every child deserves to be represented and every child deserves to have access to representation in their school libraries.”

Florida resident David Rae, founder of Common Purpose Initiative, criticized DeSantis' policies, saying they're having an impact on LGBTQ youth.

“The things that he's moved forward with the 'Don't Say Gay' bill, some of his attacks on black students in our schools, I think those are direct attacks and those are vile,” Rae said.

Rae claims DeSantis' actions are hurting many in the state of Florida and driving young adults away.

Activists want Pennsylvania voters to keep his policies out of the commonwealth and keep him out of the White House.

“We don't agree with his actions, his policies and his hate,” Franchak said. “He can take that somewhere else.”

“We have more in common than we don't across the state. I know that we can find common ground and we can work together,” Pauley said. “We can organize and get these extremist ideas and these politics out of our public schools.”

Governor DeSantis continued his book tour with a stop in Long Island, New York.

Activists said they will continue to fight against his policies.

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