While Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis “proudly” considers his state to be the place where “wake up goes to die,” his rival, former President Donald Trump, said many people don’t even know what the term means.

The two contenders for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination have been trading blows in recent days regarding the term “awakening,” which has become a politically charged word in recent years. It is often used to describe problems or issues that Republicans oppose. Recently, the phrase “wake up, go broke” has gained popularity as a slogan used to boycott businesses for their LGBTQ+ support.

DeSantis, Trump’s main rival in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, is a frequent user of the divisive term, even campaigning on promises to stamp out “wake up ideology.” His ongoing war against the “awakening” includes Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees of Florida. (WOKE) Act, which DeSantis filed in 2021 and signed into law last year. The law, according to the Governor’s Office, gives businesses, employees and families “tools to fight waking indoctrination.”

DeSantis Trump's commercial coups for 'Woke'
Republican presidential candidate for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at a campaign rally at Port Neal Welding Company on May 31, 2023 in Salix, Iowa. Former President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower on May 31, 2023 in the New York City. The two Republican presidential candidates have been trading blows over the buzzword “wake up.”
Scott Olson, James Devaney/GC Images/Getty

news week communicated via email with representatives of the DeSantis campaign.

Earlier this week, Trump distanced himself from the right-wing buzzword, saying Republicans are abusing “wake up.”

While speaking during a presidential campaign stop in Iowa on Thursday, Trump told the crowd at the Westside Conservative Club that “half” the people who use the word “wake up” can’t define it.

“I don’t like the term ‘woke up,’ because I hear the term ‘woke up, woke up, woke up,'” Trump said in a video. shared on Twitter. “It’s just a term they use, half the people can’t define it, they don’t know what it is.”

The definition of the term “awakening” is to be “consciously and actively attentive to important facts and problems”, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. On its website, Merriam-Webster states that it “originated in African-American English and gained more widespread use beginning in 2014 as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.”

DeSantis offered his own definition of the term in response to a reporter’s question during a presidential campaign stop in Iowa on Friday.

“Look, we know what woke up is, it’s a form of cultural Marxism,” DeSantis said. “It’s about putting credit and achievement behind identity politics, and it’s basically a war for the truth. And how that has infected institutions, and has corrupted institutions. So you have to be willing to fight the wakings, we’ve done that in Florida and we proudly consider ourselves the state where the wakings go to die.”

DeSantis, when asked again Saturday if Trump said he doesn’t like the term anymore, the governor referred to “wake up” as an “existential threat.”

“Woke is an existential threat to our society,” DeSantis said in the video clip that was released. shared on Twitter. “Saying it’s not a big deal, that just shows you don’t understand what a lot of these issues are right now.”

Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said news week in an email that DeSantis misinterpreted the former president’s words, saying, “That’s not what President Trump said.”

While Trump said he didn’t like “waking up,” he never said it wasn’t a “big deal,” as DeSantis said in the video clip.

Cheung lashed out at the governor, accusing him of copying Trump’s presidential agenda, which details his plans if he is elected to a second term. Trump’s agenda47 is featured on her campaign website and includes videos of her stances on various hot-button issues, ranging from homelessness to gender-affirming care for trans children.

“DeSantis has tried to steal every single Agenda 47 policy from President Trump,” Cheung told news week. “He is a con man and he is pretending to be someone who knows what he is talking about.”

Representatives for DeSantis did not respond to a request for comment when this article was published.

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