Jul 22, 2023 - Politics & Policy

DeSantis fires back at Kamala Harris over Black history standards

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Utah Capitol. Photo: Kim Bojórquez/Axios

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called Vice President Kamala Harris' criticism of controversial Black history standards — recently adopted by the state Board of Education — "absolutely ridiculous" during a Friday campaign stop in Utah.

Driving the news: The standards, approved this week, include instruction for public school students in Florida that enslaved people "developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit."

  • "They dare to push propaganda to our children," Harris said Friday, denouncing the updated Black history curriculum, per the AP.

What he's saying: "It's totally outrageous," DeSantis, a GOP presidential candidate, said at the Utah Capitol alongside over a dozen state lawmakers.

  • "…These are the most robust standards in African American history probably anywhere in the country."
  • "She's going to come down to the state of Florida and try to chirp and … try to demagogue," he said, referring to Harris' trip to Jacksonville, Florida on Friday.
  • DeSantis said he wasn't involved in the development of the new curriculum and referred questions to the Florida Department of Education.
  • "They're probably going to show is some of the folks that eventually parlayed being a blacksmith into doing things later, later in life," he said.

State of play: DeSantis' stop in Utah comes as he hits "reset" on his presidential campaign after national polls showed him trailing by double digits behind former President Trump.

  • DeSantis said his campaign was focusing on Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

By the numbers: 29% of the 495 Utah GOP registered voters surveyed between June 26 and July 4 said they would vote for Trump in next year's Republican presidential primary, compared to 24% who said they'd back DeSantis, per a Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll released Thursday.

  • Trump performed worse in Utah than any other red state during his 2016 presidential campaign, garnering about 45.5% of votes.

Details: After his speech, Utah Senate President Stuart Adams (R-Layton) organized a Pioneer Day fundraiser for DeSantis in Utah County on Friday.

  • Adams, who introduced DeSantis as "the next president of the U.S.," told Axios he was impressed by the governor's leadership through the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • DeSantis last visited the state in April to speak at the Utah Republican Party Convention.

Flashback: A coalition of 86 Utah elected officials, ranging from city council members to state lawmakers, urged DeSantis last November to launch an exploratory committee to run for president in 2024.

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