TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis embarked on the second “international trade mission” of his governorship on Monday, traveling to Tokyo for meetings with Japan’s prime minister and foreign affairs minister as part of a four-nation trip.
The official goal of the trip to Japan, South Korea, Israel and the United Kingdom is to “to strengthen economic relationships.” But the journey — which also is likely to coincide with the reelection announcement of President Joe Biden — will help to distract from the headlines at home and perhaps give the governor some more foreign policy credentials.
The governor is traveling with his wife, Casey, as well as Secretary of State Cord Byrd and Secretary of Commerce Laura DiBella. He first met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, during which he lauded bilateral ties, especially the idea of a “strong Japan,” Reuters reported.
DeSantis met with Foreign Affairs Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi later Monday and said, according to Reuters, “You are the number one foreign direct investment in America ... which we appreciate, but you’re only number six in Florida, so I think we can make that go higher.”
Regarding DeSantis’ anticipated candidacy for the Republican nomination for president, the governor deflected a question about polls, including one by The Wall Street Journal showing he has fallen behind Mr. Trump in the race for the 2024 Republican nomination.
“I am not a candidate, so we’ll see if and when that changes,” he said.
The next stop is South Korea. In Israel, he is scheduled to deliver the keynote address on April 27 at an event hosted by the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem. And in London, DeSantis is scheduled to meet Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.
The trip also is seen as an attempt to recover from a political fumble a month ago when DeSantis called the war between Ukraine and Russia a “territorial dispute,” then abruptly changed his message and called Russian President Vladimir Putin “a war criminal.”
Reporting by Reuters and the Wall Street Journal was included in this report.