DeSantis appeals to state and national audiences in his second inaugural speech
In his second inaugural speech on Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis played it by the book while still leaving the door open for a future presidential run, a University of South Florida political communications professor said.
DeSantis began his speech lauding what he has said is one of this big accomplishments in his first term:
"Freedom lives here in our great Sunshine State of Florida," DeSantis said to open his speech on the steps of the Old Capitol in Tallahassee.
Later, the governor got more specific, blasting what he calls "woke" ideology. His views on the subject have helped expand his support in the state and propel him to national prominence among conservatives.
"We reject this woke ideology. We seek normalcy, not philosophical lunacy," he told the crowd of thousands gathered to hear the speech. "We will not allow reality, facts and truth to become optional. We will never surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die."
DeSantis may have sounded like he was talking to the rest of America about woke ideology, but USF associate professor of political communications Joshua Scacco said the governor was actually playing it safe. DeSantis didn't mention any person or group by name, and used a word, woke, that people in Scacco's business call an "empty signifier."
"They can put whatever their meaning is into that phrase, and often its a negative connotation for many things they don't like, especially politically," he said.
Scacco said that kind of talk sets DeSantis up to launch a presidential campaign in 2024, as he's rumored to be considering, without coming right out and saying it.
"People are going to read a thousand different things into that part of the speech, and that's perfectly fine," he said. "But, regardless of that, I look at it as a political communications researcher as, if the governor wants to make a campaign, he already has the beginnings of his message right there."
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