Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' attempt to pit his presidential campaign against Nikki Haley ended with him denouncing a fourth-grade teacher Saturday night over the former governor's achievements in education.
DeSantis led an event for his super PAC at Hudson's Smokehouse in Lexington, South Carolina, a suburb of Columbia, and asked the audience a question he has asked at all three of his recent Palmetto State events.
“I asked crowds, what were your greatest accomplishments as governor here?”
Fourth-grade teacher Regina Wasiluk had heard DeSantis ask the same question at his previous event Saturday in Myrtle Beach and came with information about how Haley had raised educational standards in the state.
As they argued back and forth, DeSantis said, “I'm talking about major conservative achievements.” That's the name of the game. It’s about major conservative achievements.”
As Wasiluk continued to defend Haley's record, DeSantis raised his voice and said, “It's not your show, ma'am, it's not your show.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' attempt to pit his presidential campaign against Nikki Haley ended with him denouncing a fourth-grade teacher over the former governor's education record
Fourth-grade teacher Regina Wasiluk said she saw on television that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was asking his viewers in South Carolina what former Gov. Nikki Haley, his rival for the No. 2 spot in the GOP, was asking -primary election, as governor. Wasiluk said she raised educational standards
He continued by saying, “So when you promise school choice, don't give in to teachers unions,” while Wasiluk shouted to point out that there are no teachers unions in South Carolina.
After the tense exchange, Wasiluk — a South Carolinian who declined to name her district but said she has been a teacher for 24 years — said if the general election was DeSantis versus Biden, she would sit out that election.
“I will say if DeSantis beats Haley, I will not vote, period,” she told a group of reporters after the confrontation with the Florida governor. “I wouldn’t vote for him now.”
“In South Carolina, I will definitely be voting for Haley,” she added of the upcoming Feb. 24 GOP primary.
Wasiluk was visibly shaken by the meeting with the presidential candidate.
“I was very upset by the governor's response and his inability to honestly answer my question,” she told .
“I was just trying to get him to – he asked the question this morning in Myrtle Beach – does anyone know what good things Nikki Haley did, and I wanted to say the good things Nikki Haley did, because he doesn't give her credit for the things she did for the children of our state, for the elderly of our state, for all the people in our state,” Wasiluk continued.
Wasiluk also volunteered that her adult child was non-binary.
“I came here today because I wanted him to understand, I wanted to see what he really had to say.” “I wanted to ask him then why I should vote for you if you think my child, that Being considered “woke” is not acceptable in the United States of America,” she said.
Wasiluk also said it was a “big mistake” for DeSantis to be in South Carolina before Haley was actively campaigning in the state, even though he was supposed to be running in New Hampshire.
After DeSantis lost Iowa to former President Donald Trump by 30 points on Monday, his campaign has scrambled to right the course — and figure out where his message might best resonate.
He is not expected to do well in New Hampshire, where he trails both Trump and Haley.
The thought was that if DeSantis withdrew some support from Haley in South Carolina, she could turn it into a two-person race against Trump — because she would look weak if she lost the state where she served from 2011 to 2017 served as governor.
That took him to Greenville, South Carolina first thing Tuesday morning, then heading back to New Hampshire midweek.
CBS first reported that he would be spending the weekend in South Carolina, but that turned into a day — with three events — on Saturday as he plans to return to the Granite State on Sunday.
That also meant he had to miss a scheduled appearance on CNN's Sunday show State of the Union.
Speaking after his event in Myrtle Beach around noon Saturday, DeSantis replied “I'm not a political expert” when asked if there was a South Carolina district he could win.
The latest South Carolina poll, which also included former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, showed DeSantis at 7 percent in the state, compared to Trump's 54 percent and Haley's 25 percent.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made three stops in South Carolina on Saturday, starting in Myrtle Beach. Attendees there generally liked DeSantis, but some said they still supported former President Donald Trump
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis packed the hangout in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, around noon on Saturday as he tried to woo voters away from the rival former U.N. ambassador. Nikki Haley in her home state
Barbara Valencuela, an 81-year-old retired college political communications professor who says she lives near Conway, South Carolina, is siding with the Florida governor.
“This country needs him,” she told after DeSantis' Myrtle Beach event on Saturday. “I'm a Republican, I'll vote for the Republican candidate, I just pray it's Ron DeSantis because he's the one we need.” “If he doesn't get it, I'll vote for Donald Trump, I like Donald Trump.”
As for Haley, Valencuela said, “If she gets the nomination, I will vote for her, but if I do, I will hold my nose.”
“Because I don’t trust her,” Valencuela added.
James Trent, 39, a Myrtle Beach resident who runs an exterior home maintenance company, said he plans to vote for the first time in the South Carolina primary.
“I think DeSantis made a good case that we need someone who can last for eight years. I think it’s going over pretty well,” he said.
Trent previously voted for Trump in general elections, including for Trump in 2020 and for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, because he feared Trump was a “narcissist.”
“Ironically, I voted for Trump the second time he lost, and the time before that when he won, I voted for Clinton,” he said with a laugh.
Trent indicated he was ready to move on from Trump — and he liked DeSantis' response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the Florida governor reopened his state sooner than others.
“I’m not at peace with Trump right now, to be honest, that’s my big concern,” Trent said. “I really liked seeing what DeSantis did with Florida, it was special – we lived in Airzona at the time – and when I saw what he did with Florida I thought, man, it would be like this cool if this guy ran for president and now us.” 'I see it.'
Phil Cortolano, a 72-year-old retiree from Myrtle Beach, said he's still a Trump guy — and that probably wouldn't count against DeSantis because he “probably” wouldn't vote in his state's Republican primary next month.
“I like Ron DeSantis too.” “It's the same guy, but he doesn't do steroids,” Cortolano told with a laugh.
“What I want — a perfect world for me, right?” “We could have great leadership at the top … for the next 12 years if DeSantis and Trump could just get together,” Cortolano offered. “We could have 12 great years.”
Larry Holbert, a 67-year-old Myrtle Beach visitor who was sitting nearby at DeSantis' lunch event, had a similar idea.
Holbert told that he would likely vote for Trump in the South Carolina primary but wanted Trump to choose DeSantis as his running mate.
“I don’t know if he would do that, and I don’t think he would,” Holbert said. 'That would be great.'
“I don’t know if he would do that, but that would be great,” he added.