CNBC Exclusive: CNBC Excerpts: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Speaks with CNBC’s Brian Sullivan on “Last Call” Today

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WHEN: Monday, August 14, 2023

WHERE: CNBC’s “Last Call”

Following are excerpts from the unofficial transcript of a CNBC EXCLUSIVE interview with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and CNBC Anchor Brian Sullivan. The full interview will air on CNBC’s “Last Call” (M-F, 7PM-8PM ET) tonight at 7pm ET. Full transcript to follow the interview.

All references must be sourced to CNBC.

DeSantis on China

I would view them as an adversary. And I think it’s – that doesn’t mean you don’t deal with them. Of course, you got to deal with a lot of people. But that is not the direction we need to go. And so if you look at our defense posture, we really still are stuck in Europe being the primary theater of our concern, and that was understandable after World War II because you had the Cold War and all that, of course. But now the Indo-Pacific really needs to be our top concern because the China threat is so much more significant than I think any other threat that we face. And that’s going to require more hard power. Yes, more naval power, we have like 280 ships right now in our Navy. Ronald Reagan, in the 80s, he had it almost up to 600 ships. So we need to do more in terms of a naval build up all with an eye to projecting power in the Indo-Pacific. I think you can deter China. I think time is running out to do it, but I think we can do it.

DeSantis on Disney

Gov. Ron DeSantis: 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.

Brian 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, SeaWorld, 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.

DeSantis on Fed Chair Jay Powell

I don’t think he’s done a good job. I mean, I think from Covid on, they put too much money into the economy, that drove the inflation. But then they said it was going to be transitory, that we had to unlearn Milton Friedman. No. When you start doing something like that, it’s about 18 to 20 months, you are going to see inflation. And so, they were behind the ball on that. And then they’ve hiked so much now, it’s caused a lot of problems in the economy and could end up driving us into a recession.

DeSantis on Energy Independence

Clearly, we gotta get inflation under control. Part of that is Congress should stop spending so much money. Part of that is grow the economy. Part of it is increased productivity. But part of it is energy independence and unleashing our domestic energy production. Biden’s made a decision to go with the Green New Deal and pursue that agenda. That is not an agenda that is going to help us reduce inflation. It’s not an agenda that’s going to be good for the average American family. It’s not an agenda that’s going to be good for maximum economic growth. We have an opportunity to have a huge competitive advantage with our energy resources here in the United States. But when you say don’t do that, focus more on EV, that’s emboldening Russia, Iran, Venezuela and China. So geopolitically it makes a lot of sense for us to be energy independent.

DeSantis on People Souring on Biden

If you’re going to put these mandates in place without having the power grid be able to accept what needs to accept, we’re going to run into a lot of problems. And so, that will go a much different direction. We are going to have reliable energy in this country. It is very important. Honestly, it can be the lifeblood of an economic renaissance here. And I’m all for technology and people innovating and I do think you’re gonna see a lot of innovation in energy. But to put our thumb on the scale and force going in one direction, I’ll tell you, a lot of these – working class, middle class people that have soured on Biden, that’s one of the reasons because they see what’s happening. They’re having to pay more because he’s pursuing that agenda.

DeSantis on Congressional Stock Trading

I was a congressman for three terms, I sold all my stock before I went in because I used to do day trading – not that I had a lot of money, but I would do it. I just stopped doing it because the thing is, is if I traded something, someone will then say maybe some vote was there. And I didn’t even want the appearance of impropriety. And you look at how some of these people making windfalls – look, maybe it’s all on the level. But I think the average citizen looks at that and they say, you know what these guys play by their own set of rules. So I’d get rid of that. I would eliminate congressional pensions for members of Congress. They should – they have a 401k. They don’t need both. And then I would impose term limits on members of Congress.

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