The following is a transcript from CNBC on Aug. 14, 2023 where presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis discussed Disney World and bringing back “traditional” American values.
Gov. DeSantis: I mean, I think at the end of the day, you know, this is just an issue about the kids. We’re gonna stand up for our kids and, you know, I think they made a big mistake by getting involved in this. But as a parent of a six, five and a three-year-old I understand, and parents understand, kids should be able to go to school, watch cartoons, just be kids without having an agenda shoved down their throat. And when you start talking about telling a first grader that they can switch their gender and all that –
Sullivan: What did Disney have to do with it?
Gov. DeSantis: Well Disney –
Sullivan: I know they – what was – at this point I’m having trouble remembering what the original beef was.
Gov. DeSantis: So, we had a bill that basically said in elementary school, we’re not going to have any of the sexualized curriculum. We’re going to focus on math, reading all that. Basically, doing school the way it had been done all of American history until like, what two weeks ago. So they came in and opposed the bill, tried to tank it, which is their right to do, that’s fine. I signed the bill and then they put out a statement saying that they were going to devote their company’s resources to seeing the parents’ rights repealed, or seeing it overturned in court. And it’s like, okay, first of all, I don’t think that’s consistent with their fiduciary duty to have taken that position. They did, but then we’re in a situation where it’s, okay, you know, they have been given this special arrangement by Florida many decades ago. So that’s like subsidies – they’re being subsidized. So, then they’re going to turn those subsidies against our state policy?
Sullivan: But I think – but you can understand. You’re the Governor of Florida so you’re – you know, Florida’s – I believe they’re the biggest employer in the state of Florida if not –
Gov. DeSantis: No, they’re not. But they’re –
Sullivan: They’ve got to be close, okay. They bring in a lot of money to your state.
Gov. DeSantis: Oh and by the way –
Sullivan: They bring in a lot of money to your state.
Gov. DeSantis: Oh and by the way, no one has made Disney more money recently than me because during Covid, they were open in Florida. They were locked shut in California. We said we want you guys to operate because we understood how important it was that their cast members in Central Florida had the ability to make ends meet and in fact, when Disney closed their parks, I didn’t tell them to close. They did it voluntarily. We got all their employees’ information, we ran them through unemployment, we helped them stay afloat until they could open again.
Sullivan: Why not – you’ve got a beautiful desk back over there – want to pick up the phone today, give Bob Iger a call and if so, what would you say to him?
Gov. DeSantis: Well, here’s the deal –
Sullivan: Because he wasn’t even CEO when this happened.
Gov. DeSantis: No, I know.
Sullivan: That other guy got booted. Bob Chapek.
Gov. DeSantis: No, no, I know. But here here’s the deal. I would just say two things. Apart from Florida, Disney’s had a lot of problems. And I think that the skirmish they got in with these young kids. I think that’s a symptom of why they’re not doing as well, because I think parents have lost some confidence that this is a company that’s really speaking to what they want, the way it had been traditionally. So I would just say just as a parent, look, my wife and I, we got married at Walt Disney World, okay, so it’s not like we’re opposed. I mean, we’ve appreciated working with them over the years. But I would just say go back to what you did well. I think it’s going to be the right business decision and all that. But where we are today, you know, we’ve basically moved on.
They’re suing the state of Florida, they’re gonna lose that lawsuit. So, what I would say is drop the lawsuit, you know, you have the state that even CNBC ranks as number one of all 50 states for economy, we lead the nation in new business formations, unemployment is incredibly low, great fiscal posture, people are bringing capital into Florida. This is a great place to do business. Your competitors all do very well here, Universal, Sea World, they have not had the same special privileges as you have. So, all we want to do is treat everybody the same and let’s move forward. I’m totally fine with that. But I’m not fine with giving extraordinary privileges, you know, to one special company at the exclusion of everybody else.