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Casey DeSantis launches national ‘Mamas for DeSantis’ group in Iowa

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Posted at 3:23 PM, Jul 09, 2023

Florida first lady Casey DeSantis is working to harness the “parental rights” movement that has played a powerful role in states like Iowa and Florida to support her husband Gov. Ron DeSantis’ 2024 campaign.

Casey DeSantis held a solo event with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Thursday, launching the “Mamas for DeSantis” group to mobilize mothers and grandmothers for the upcoming 2024 election cycle. At the Simpson Barn in Johnston, DeSantis told a crowd why parents should support her husband’s bid for the presidency.

“A lot of bad things going on — I can tell you with what Governor DeSantis has done, he will lead the charge, he will clean house and he will ensure that parents have the rights to be able to make the decisions that they think best for their family,” she said.

Volunteers were set up with face paint and yard games were available outside the barn for attendees who brought their children. While the event was not officially organized by Moms for Liberty, the “Mamas for DeSantis” event had significant crossover – many of those in the crowd wore “Moms for Liberty” shirts, including some of the volunteers.

The “Mamas for DeSantis” group launched with DeSantis’ 2022 gubernatorial reelection campaign, with Casey DeSantis heading the group. More than 1.1 million mothers and grandmothers signed up to support DeSantis in that campaign, she said, adding that they helped her husband reach his 20-point reelection victory.

Parents and grandparents are going to be a pivotal group of voters in the 2024 presidential election too, she said.

“It’s one thing what your policies come after us as mamas,” DeSantis said. “It’s another thing when your policies come after our children. And that’s when the claws come out.”

DeSantis complimented Reynolds for leading on “parental rights” issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the governor moved to return Iowa students to in-person learning earlier than many other states.

The Florida first lady said for many parents, the COVID-19 pandemic was their first time “peering into the classroom” and seeing what was happening in public schools. DeSantis talked about the need for “parental rights” laws passed in Florida on issues like LGBTQ+ issues and “pornography” in school material and curriculum. She said schools were going too far and that she knew a Florida mother whose child was “being transitioned behind their back.”

“This isn’t OK in this time in society, it’s not OK to take the rights of parents away from them,” DeSantis said. “And so that’s why the governor and myself have stood strong.”

Reynolds signed into law similar “parental rights” measures during the 2023 legislative session that were supported by Moms for Liberty, including a ban from school libraries on books that depict sex and requiring parental permission for school staff to use a different name or pronouns for a student than the ones listed at birth.

Moms for Liberty was founded in Florida in 2021. The new group is quickly gaining ground as a prominent force in the GOP primary field, with candidates including DeSantis, former President Donald Trump and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley addressing the Moms for Liberty national conference in Philadelphia in late June.

Eva and Adam Conn, who attended the event with their four children, said “parental rights” isn’t the only issue voters will be weighing when deciding who to support for the Republican nomination in 2024, but that it’s a top issue.

Adam Conn said he was happy when Ron DeSantis decided to run for president because of his track record on these issues as well as lowering taxes and shrinking government, but that he is not committed to supporting the Florida governor in the caucuses just yet.

“We’re just kind of beginning this journey, but DeSantis is definitely one of the top two names … and I think DeSantis definitely adds an important message to the field,” Conn said.

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: info@iowacapitaldispatch.com. Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

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