LONG BEACH, Calif. (CN) — Surrounded by shipping containers, a couple of local workers in the background, and a crowd of reporters as an audience, Florida Governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis railed against California diesel truck regulations, Florida teacher’s unions, and promised to deport millions of people from the country if he’s elected president at a small campaign event in Long Beach, California on Friday.
“This is basically the petri dish for leftism in this country. So whatever Biden’s doing, he’s a few years behind what they’re doing here in California, so I think the thing that they’re doing with this diesel truck mandate and all that, that is absolutely what is going to be done nationally, and I know they’re working together on that,” DeSantis said, referring to a decision made earlier this year that phases out sales, and then use, of big rig shipping trucks and buses over a number of years and mandates they be replaced by renewable vehicles, like electric trucks, in California.
The rule was passed earlier this year by the California Air Resources Board — the state agency tasked with reducing air pollution — in order to both reduce air pollution, and to reduce the health risks of diesel fumes that affect communities around ports, freeways, and railways.
“So it’s really about the future of the country. I think the country is going into a state of decline now. We need to reverse that decline, and the success we have had in Florida shows a model for American revival, and that’s exactly why I’m running for president,” DeSantis added.
The event was held in a lot at the Los Angeles Harbor Grain Terminal, a privately run loading and docking company near the expansive Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles complex, one of the largest ports in the country.
Dwight Robinson, the CEO of Los Angeles Harbor Grain Terminal, said he invited DeSantis to speak at his business.
DeSantis added that electric trucks aren’t built for the needs of trucking, unlike “traditional American automobiles,” and they’re expensive, and that in order to pay for them, trucking businesses will simply pass the cost of them onto consumers, causing the prices of consumer goods and food to increase, and worsening inflation.
Instead, DeSantis promised that if he’s elected president, his main economic policy would be to make the U.S. “energy dominant,” by extracting more fossil fuels like oil and natural gas.
In most national polls, DeSantis is polling a distant second to former President Donald Trump.
Later on in the speech, DeSantis prodded Trump for not showing up to either of the two Republican presidential debates.
“He needs to come and he needs to defend his record,” he said about Trump.
DeSantis added that he pitched a one-on-one debate with the former president to Fox News commentator Sean Hannity, similar to the debate DeSantis will participate in with California Governor Gavin Newsom in November.
Along with detailing his feuds with Florida teachers unions, DeSantis also hammered home his extreme views on immigration.
“Everyone that has come illegally under Biden, we got to go, they're sending back. That's going to be the first priority. That's probably six or seven million people right there," he said, answering a reporter's question about whether he would, as president, order mass deportations.
While agreeing with his position on diesel truck regulations and appreciating his support of truckers, Richart Ortega, a facility’s manager at Three Rivers Trucking, and one of the local workers assembled to stand in the background while DeSantis spoke, said he wasn’t as impressed with DeSantis’ foray into immigration policy.
Ortega said he has family that’s been stuck in the immigration process for some time now. There are good people who are working here, with good records, that are paying taxes who are in similar situations, he said.
“If not amnesty, people who are working should feel safe,” he said.
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