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Riley Gaines backing DeSantis over Trump in 2024

Sep 28, 2023

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Former All-American swimmer Riley Gaines has endorsed Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the 2024 GOP presidential primary and said she plans to hit the campaign trail with the Sunshine State's governor.

Gaines, who competed against transgender swimmer Lia Thomas and has since become an outspoken proponent of reserving women's sports for biological females, announced her endorsement in a Thursday interview on Newsmax, arguing that backing DeSantis is "the right thing for women."

"His leadership has been crucial in rooting out the radical ideology that's really driving this insanity and really bringing visibility to these cultural issues that affect the breakdown of families, the breakdown of faith, the breakdown of freedoms," Gaines told host Eric Bolling.

"He's really taken on this political establishment, the woke corporations, the media, and he's won. And we know this based off his success in Florida alone," she added.

The swimmer-turned-activist indicated that she is prepared for any backlash from supporters of former President Donald Trump who may feel slighted that she spurned the former commander-in-chief.

"I see the threat again that this country is under, and I see it with the importance of taking a stance in this," Gaines explained. "I know how this will affect the next generation if someone doesn't, especially to be someone who's as young as myself."

"And again, just the importance behind it. So while I might not be entirely ready, I am ready. I have the leadership, I have the understanding, I have the unwavering morals to know what I’m doing by endorsing Governor DeSantis is the right thing. It's the right thing for me. It's the right thing for women. It's the right thing for Americans," she said.

Gaines and South Carolina state Rep. Ashley Trantham joined DeSantis on Friday in Greenville, SC., to highlight measures the governor has taken to prohibit transgender people from competing in women's sports.

In 2021, DeSantis signed the "Fairness in Women's Sports Act," which requires student-athletes at public schools to only participate on teams of the gender they were assigned at birth.

Last year, DeSantis also symbolically declared Emma Weyant the winner of the NCAA women's 500-yard freestyle after Thomas won the event at a tournament.

"I’ll be so excited to stand alongside both of these warriors and fighting for what's right," Gaines said Thursday.