Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis still trails former President Trump in the polls by more than 40 percentage points but remains committed to the idea that work on the ground will pay off.
The former Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG) officer was back in Iowa with his Super PAC "Never Back Down" on Sept. 16 to continue his mission to visit all 99 counties before the first-in-the-nation caucus.
Bringing his latest total to 58 counties, the Republican candidate reaffirmed his commitment. This garnered applause at an overfull town hall in the town of Red Oak (county No. 56) with Iowa U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst.
"Maybe it's just the way I grew up," he said, "but nothing is guaranteed to you in this life. You're not entitled to anything. You have to earn your keep.
"And that means you have to earn this nomination by showing up to Iowa. Showing up to all the Iowa communities. Talking to folks, answering their questions, and asking them for their support. And that's exactly what we're going to do."
Mr. Trump continues to remain high in the polls despite facing a multitude of federal and state charges and refusing to participate in the traditional procedures for the Republican Party's nomination—such as participating in debates and signing a loyalty pledge to drop out of the race and support whoever earns it.
"I think Iowa voters really want to see the candidates," Ms. Ernst said when asked if she thought the former president was spending enough time campaigning in her state.
"They want to be able to come out, ask questions of the candidates, and hear about what their vision for the future is.
"That's what Iowans really want. They want to be able to reach out and shake the hand of the person that they want to support.
"So, I love to see involvement.
"Gov. DeSantis is doing the 99-county tour, he's meeting with those Iowa voters. That makes a difference."
"We are not going to have a mulligan on the 2024 election," Mr. DeSantis said. "The time for excuses is over. We have to get the job done. I will get the job done."
The governor echoed what he sees as a need for "strength" in the nation's capital, a resurgence in national security, and a "reckoning" for those responsible for the debt increase and COVID-19 shutdowns and mandates.
'Day One Issue'The governor spent that Saturday morning outlining some of the actions that he promised to do on his first day in the Oval Office. One of them was to end "Bidenomics."
"On day one, we're taking all the Biden regulations, executive orders," he said. "I'm going to grab them, and I'm going to throw them in the trash can for good. And we're going to have a new era in this country."
He also called for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and term limits for Congress.
The governor also declared the immigration crisis a "day one issue."
"Day one, we're gonna declare it a national emergency, we're going to mobilize resources, including our military, to be at the border," he said over applause.
"We're going to stop the invasion, we're not going to allow the bogus asylum claims. They can wait in Mexico. We're going to stop that. We will build a border wall."
He also promised to hold the Mexican Cartel accountable for the drug trade and sex trafficking across the border.
His third "day one" promise was to "reign in this out-of-control bureaucracy" and what he called "the weaponization of agencies" like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
"When I become president, you're gonna have a new FBI director on day one," he said. "It's gonna be a big house cleaning.
"We are also going to usher in a reckoning for all the failed government COVID-19 mandate locked down policies that they inflicted on this country from Fauci on down.
"They did damage to this country. They don't acknowledge the damage that they did. They still act like all this stuff was successful."
Mr. DeSantis claimed to be the only candidate who was willing to bring an end to the spending—for which he blamed both Democrats and Republicans—come down hard on the southern border, and hold government agencies accountable for their actions over the past four years.
The governor also referred to similar actions he took in Florida, from sending illegal immigrants to Martha's Vineyard and banning pandemic restrictions such as mask mandates and shutdowns, to paying off more than a quarter of his state's debt.
He also received strong applause for the positions he took on "parents' rights" and defending children from transgender ideologies.
"You can have confidence, and you can have trust in me," he said. "What I'm going to do is what I'm going to do. If I don't plan on doing it, I'm not going to tell you."
"You can have the checklist of what I said I would do, and we will get crankin' on day one," he said. "Now is the time that we have got to get this done."
Mr. DeSantis is scheduled to appear in Midland, Texas, on Sept. 20, to unveil the energy policy he will implement if elected president.