Protesters Interrupt DeSantis as He Talks Ukraine, Ground Game in Iowa Town Hall

Protesters Interrupt DeSantis as He Talks Ukraine, Ground Game in Iowa Town Hall

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Florida governor faces oil money protest as he rallies support on final leg of Iowa campaign.

Fox News’ Jan. 9 town hall with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was almost over when a group of protesters interrupted him with chants of “No oil money!”

At least one was taken down by security while approaching the stage.

“Well, you guys, that was a mistake. You guys didn’t get that one right,” Mr. DeSantis said after the protesters were subdued before being escorted away from the stage.

Held at a convention center in downtown Des Moines, the event comes in the final leg of campaigning ahead of Iowa’s Jan. 15 GOP caucus—the first major event in the scramble to secure the Republican presidential nomination.

It came after a massive snowstorm blew across Iowa from the west, dumping at least 10.5 inches on Des Moines’ airport. In Florida, meanwhile, the stormy weather translated to tornadoes that tore through the state’s panhandle.

Mr. DeSantis arrived straight from his home state, where he had delivered his State of the State address from the capitol.

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The candidate sounded much as he has in previous events across Iowa, though perhaps with a few more jokes about the cold weather, not to mention a spontaneous quip about the anti-oil demonstrators.

But an early question about Ukraine funding allowed him to set himself apart from former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, who could elbow him aside in the race for second place in Iowa.

“You have people like Nikki Haley—they care more about the Ukraine border than she does about our own border,” he said, questioning why some American money was going to pensions for retired Ukrainian bureaucrats.

He emphasized the threat from communist China, characterizing it as a more urgent national security priority.

“We need more naval power in the Indo-Pacific,” Mr. DeSantis said.

Ground Game Stressed by DeSantis Camp

Ahead of the town hall, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a surrogate for Mr. DeSantis, wouldn’t speculate as to whether his candidate of choice would finish second in Iowa.

“I don’t love getting in the prediction business,” Mr. Roy told The Epoch Times.

Like others in Mr. DeSantis’s camp, he drew attention to the candidate’s ground game, saying that there were “about 1,600 precinct captains that are committed” across Iowa.

Commitment could make the difference on Jan. 15. It’s expected to be frigid, with highs below zero in places like Waukee, Iowa, just outside Des Moines, and Sioux City, in the far northwest corner of the state.

“It’s going to be really cold,” the Texan said.

Mr. DeSantis made similar points during the town hall.

“Our people are turning out,” Mr. DeSantis said.

The Florida governor said that his campaign in the state has “more commits than anyone’s ever had,” a “massive number.”

The Epoch Times has reached out to the DeSantis campaign about the number of committed caucus-goers it has in Iowa.

Florida Governor and 2024 Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis speaks at a live town hall hosted by Fox News in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 9, 2024. (Christian Monterrosa/AFP via Getty Images)
Florida Governor and 2024 Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis speaks at a live town hall hosted by Fox News in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 9, 2024. (Christian Monterrosa/AFP via Getty Images)

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