Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) met with dozens of lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday at an event that attracted a small but loud mob of leftist protesters, who blared music and yelled phrases like “we say gay” and “D.C. don’t like fascists.”
DeSantis, who appeared to be feeling out reception to a possible presidential run by attending the event, has become known for his embrace of conservative cultural issues through acts like passing his state’s Parental Rights in Education Act — left-wing activists have coined it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — and picking battles with Disney, which opposes the legislation.
The protesters, many of whom were members of the far-left ShutDownDC, vocally rejected the governor’s appearance, congregating outside the roughly two-hour event holding flags supporting transgenderism and gay pride and shouting support for abortion, Black Lives Matter, and saying the term “gay.”
The event took place at the Heritage Foundation building a couple of blocks down from the U.S. Capitol and was closed to the press.
Police remained lined up outside the building as chants continued and music blasted throughout its duration.
It had been promoted as a “meet and greet and policy discussion” hosted by a group called And to the Republic. Most of the lawmakers who attended have not weighed in on whom they support in the 2024 presidential race.
Former President Donald Trump, the frontrunner in the race who launched his campaign in November, has racked up nearly four dozen congressional endorsements.
DeSantis, who continues to poll in second place, has not announced whether he will run but has picked up three congressional endorsements, from Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Chip Roy (R-TX), and Laurel Lee (R-FL), all of whom were in attendance at Tuesday’s meet and greet, Breitbart News confirmed.
Others who could be seen exiting the event included Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Reps. Victoria Spartz (R-IN), Tim Burchett (R-TN), Maria Salazar (R-FL), and Tom Tiffany (R-WI). Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and several other House members were also featured on the invitation as attendees.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) was also present in the mix of what totaled at least three dozen lawmakers, Politico reported.
Burchett later shared a “shameless selfie” of himself on Twitter with the governor:
Shameless @GovRonDeSantis @RonDeSantisFL Selfie. Thank you @chiproytx and @RepThomasMassie for the introduction. pic.twitter.com/NnvXPajtdj
— Tim Burchett (@timburchett) April 18, 2023
Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX) also took to social media after the event, publishing a lengthy statement upon his exit saying he had just had a meeting with DeSantis but that he would instead be endorsing Trump.
Tiffany, who is not planning to endorse anyone in 2024, told Breitbart News after he emerged from the event that he had a brief but positive one-on-one conversation with DeSantis focused mainly on his own state’s concerns.
“It was more just talking about Wisconsin and where we’re at at this point,” Tiffany said. “We saw what happened with both the governor’s race last year and the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, and that should be of concern for Republicans in Wisconsin, and we need to figure out how we’re going to fix that.”
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