Ron DeSantis may have stumbled out of the gate with a buggy campaign announcement on Twitter, but the Republican challenger’s media blitz got underway in earnest Thursday on conservative talk radio, where the Florida governor was finally free to speak as a presidential candidate – and speaking freely was top of mind.
DeSantis proposed a number of “on Day 1” actions he would take if elected – including an aggressive purge of Washington bureaucracy, federal employees involved in Big Tech censorship in particular. Later on “Clay & Buck,” DeSantis told the hosts he would wield his pardon powers at the beginning of his administration, not just the end.
But first, DeSantis made an early morning stop on “The Glenn Beck Program,” where host Glenn Beck immediately brought up social media censorship collaborations between the FBI and Big Tech companies brought to light in the weeks after Elon Musk bought Twitter.
“You can’t let the government subcontract out censorship to Silicon Valley,” DeSantis said, “and say you still have a First Amendment.”
He then suggested the executive branch hasn’t been nearly as firm with Washington bureaucracy as it could have been – and that he would swiftly move to change that: “Presidents have not been able to wield Article II power, to discipline the bureaucracy,” DeSantis added. “So I think I’ll come in, and on Day 1, we’ll be spitting nails.”
DeSantis also said he would “immediately” instal a new FBI director and suggested he would slash some federal agencies by as much as half, preferring to fill the remaining jobs with people from all around the U.S. – just not those already working in the Capital City.
“You can’t just recycle everybody from D.C.,” DeSantis said. “It’s not going to change if that’s the case.”
A few hours later, DeSantis did 12 minutes on “The Clay & Buck Show,” heirs apparent to Rush Limbaugh, where he doubled down on taking a firm approach with executive powers: DeSantis danced around a question from host Clay Travis about whether the governor would pardon fellow Floridian Donald Trump or Jan. 6 rioters – but that’s when he made clear that he wouldn’t hold back the pardon pen to the end of his term:
“What I’m going to do is – I’m going to do on Day 1 – I will have folks that will get together and look at all these cases, who people are victims of weaponization or political targeting, and we will be aggressive at issuing pardons,” he said, adding later: “We will use the pardon power – and I will do that at the front end. You know, a lot of people wait until the end of the administration to issue pardons. We’re going to find examples where where government’s been weaponized against disfavored groups, and we will apply relief as appropriate.”
Speaking of terms ending, DeSantis also made the obvious inference that if he runs and wins, the 44-year-old plans on running for re-election.
“If we do everything right, if we’re disciplined, if we’re strong as anyone could be, it still takes a two-term project,” he said. “I think it takes eight years to be able to reconstitutionalize this government.”