Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was the first guest speaker at the North Carolina GOP Convention on June 9.

For the convention, Republicans from across and beyond the Tar Heel State met at Greensboro’s Joseph S. Koury Convention Center to set the policies for the state Republican party going forward and listen to guest speakers. The convention was an opportunity for presidential candidates to promote themselves well ahead of the primary election on March 5, 2024. 

DeSantis was critical of the new name for North Carolina’s largest military base: Fort Liberty — which was recently renamed after being called Fort Bragg after Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg. DeSantis promised if he was elected president that he would return the name of the base back to Fort Bragg. 

During his speech, DeSantis criticized transgender athletes and said he signed legislation “protecting women’s athletics” as governor of the sunshine state. 

“How do you have someone swimming on the men's team for three years and then switching to the women's team and then winning the women's national championship?” DeSantis said. “That is wrong. That is not true. And that takes away opportunities for our girls and our women athletes.”  

On June 10, former Vice President Mike Pence visited the convention with his wife, former Second Lady Karen Pence, for the “First in Freedom Luncheon.” During his remarks, Pence congratulated North Carolina Rep. Tricia Cotham for changing from a Democrat to a Republican and giving both houses of the General Assembly supermajorities. 

Pence also criticized the Biden-Harris administration and said the country needs to turn itself back around. 

“The first step to turning America around is ending this disastrous presidency,” Pence said. “We must decide here and now in the state of North Carolina that Joe Biden will never be reelected as president.” 

In the wake of Trump’s recent indictment, Pence said Trump has the right to a presumption of innocence on his 37 charges. 

Early into his remarks, Trump criticized the Department of Justice after his indictment. He is scheduled to be arraigned in a federal court in Miami on Tuesday. 

“The Marxist left is once again using the same corrupt DOJ and the same corrupt FBI and attorneys general and local district attorneys to interfere in our election at a level that our country has never witnessed before,” Trump said. “These criminals cannot be rewarded, they must be defeated.”

Trump also said that he will endorse North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson for governor. 

After hearing and seeing everyone speak at the convention, Republican Party Chairman of Craven County Rick Hopkins said he feels confident in the party’s ability to win the presidency.. 

“If we can unite and come together as one body and push for the platform of the Republican Party … I think we can win the election,” Hopkins told Elon News Network. 

Trump, Pence and DeSantis are all running for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination for the 2024 general election.