Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vowed to provide religious schools the same funding available to other private schools through an executive order on “day one” if he becomes president in 2025.
(Bloomberg) — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vowed to provide religious schools the same funding available to other private schools through an executive order on “day one” if he becomes president in 2025.
DeSantis, speaking to the Pray, Vote, Stand gathering of conservative religious groups in Washington on Friday night, promised to use the federal government to champion “religious freedom” and that he’d establish offices at the Labor, Education and Health and Human Services Departments to advance that goal.
Those offices, he said, would “protect religious liberty across all agencies of government. Religious expression is a fundamental civil right.”
Such actions would almost certainly be challenged by opponents on constitutional grounds.
“We will stop the federal government from targeting men and women on the basis of their faith,” DeSantis told the crowd. “Religious schools should not be pressured to violate the tenets of their faith.”
DeSantis must attract more support among evangelical and other Christian voters as he tries to reverse the slide in his poll numbers in a campaign that has experienced money problems and staff shakeups since he began running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
The governor is currently polling at around 13% nationally, down about 43 percentage points from GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, according to a RealClearPolitics average.
In an interview with Fox News earlier Friday, DeSantis said he is focused on state polls. He’s concentrating on early primary states like Iowa, betting that an intense, tightly focused personal effort will counter the former president’s broader advantage.
“It’s a state-by-state thing,” DeSantis told Fox News. “So we’re focused our efforts on the early states. If it was a national primary, we’d have a different strategy, and we’d be applying our efforts differently.”
DeSantis will have a chance to woo more religious voters on Saturday when he is scheduled to appear at a political dinner alongside several other Republican contenders hosted by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition.
The governor will head to Texas next week to unveil his energy policy and meet with donors.
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