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DeSantis gets Oklahoma governor's endorsement at Tulsa appearance

Kevin Stitt didn't mention Donald Trump, who carried the state with more than 65% of the vote in 2016 and 2020.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican presidential candidate, speaks to supporters Saturday in Tulsa, Okla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican presidential candidate, speaks to supporters Saturday in Tulsa, Okla.Daniel Shular / AP

Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt endorsed his Florida counterpart, Gov. Ron DeSantis, in the 2024 presidential election as DeSantis spoke Saturday in Tulsa.

DeSantis, a runner-up to former President Donald Trump in most polls of Republican voters, is campaigning uphill, with daily attacks from Trump serving as headwinds.

Stitt, introducing DeSantis at a special event in Tulsa hosted by the political action committee Never Back Down, said DeSantis is in step with fellow Republicans while maintaining a steady hand amid pandemic and political tumult.

"DeSantis did not surrender states’ rights and individual liberties over to groupthink," Stitt said. "In this election cycle, Oklahomans will remember that DeSantis was one of the few who never backed down."

The unsealing Friday of a 37-count indictment against Trump in connection with more than 100 government documents found at his Florida home in August is keeping Trump atop the news while posing an unavoidable challenge to opponents: recognize the seriousness of the case or embrace Trump's claim he's the victim of a witch hunt in which the Justice Department has been weaponized for political hit jobs.

Stitt didn't mention Trump, who carried Oklahoma in 2016 and 2020 with more than 65% of the vote. He described DeSantis as a "principled leader" who has a chance to serve back-to-back terms, a span of eight years. If Trump retakes the presidency, it would be his second term, and he would be able to serve only four years.

"DeSantis has boldly delivered results for the people of Florida that laid the groundwork for a booming economy, an education system focused on student outcomes and better infrastructure for working families," Stitt said.

The endorsement followed news that 20 Oklahoma state legislators and GOP former Rep. Jim Bridenstine had also endorsed DeSantis.

Speaking after Stitt, DeSantis addressed the challenge of Trump's indictment, saying that if he's elected, "you'll have the Justice Department cleaned out from top to bottom."