President Joe Biden appeared to mock Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during a speech Thursday at a Democratic National Committee (DNC) fundraising event about his dispute with the Walt Disney Company.
Biden was speaking at the Portland Yacht Club in Portland, Oregon, when he broached the subject of the Republican Party, which he said had been taken over by “the far right.”
The president joked that in Florida, Republicans are “now going after Mickey Mouse,” a reference to DeSantis’ dispute with Disney over a controversial education law that critics have dubbed the law “Don’t Say Gay”.
DeSantis, a Republican widely seen as a strong 2024 presidential candidate, is expected to sign legislation that would dissolve a special district in Florida that has allowed Disney to run its own local government in the area where its theme parks are located.
Biden said Thursday there was “virtually no Republican support” for his program.
“What’s happened is there are a number of Republicans who know better, but they’re scared,” Biden said.
“I know – I won’t ask for names, but I’m sure my colleagues can tell you from the Senate that at least six US senators came to me and said, ‘I know – I know I should vote for this, Joe. But if I do, they will look for me and I will be eliminated,” he said.
“It’s not very brave, but this – the far right has taken over this party,” the president said.
Biden then addressed DeSantis’ disagreement with Disney.
“And that’s not even conservative in the traditional sense of conservative,” Biden said.
“It’s mean. It’s ugly. It’s like that – look at what’s happening in Florida,” he said.
“My God, they’re going after Mickey Mouse,” Biden said.
The official White House transcript does not contain the word “Christ” and marks what Biden said as “inaudible.” However, Biden’s remarks at this point have been independently reported by news outlets, including CNN.
“I mean, seriously, think about it,” Biden continued, according to the transcript. “Like my friend used to say, ‘Who would have thought?'”
Newsweek asked Governor Ron DeSantis’ office for comment.
Disney was initially criticized for not speaking out against the “Don’t Say Gay” law – officially the Parental Rights in Education Act – but later took a strong stance against it, pledging to help repeal the law or have it struck down in court. .
The law prohibits “classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity at certain grade levels or in a specific manner.”
The Florida House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill that would dissolve Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID), which has existed since 1967 and allows Disney to run its own local government, collect its own taxes and provide its own own services such as fire fighting. The state Senate passed accompanying legislation on Wednesday.
If DeSantis signs the law as expected, RCID will be disbanded on June 1, 2023, but an expert who spoke to Newsweek this week suggested that Disney could have the district renewed by the legislature next year before that date arrives.