Thousands of conservative students gather at Tampa summit featuring DeSantis, Trump

Tampa is the meeting ground this weekend for some of the most influential voices of the Republican Party as well as their newest supporters. Turning Point USA is hosting its Student Action Summit (SAS) at the Tampa Convention Center. 

Five thousand students from all 50 states are converging for a meeting of the nation's youngest conservative minds.

"I am so hyped to be here," said Joseph Switch from Minnesota. "It's so awesome to come to these events and meet all these other college students as well as just adults, too, everyone that's like-minded around you is just awesome, and the speakers are the best."

The SAS is touted as America's biggest conference for young conservatives, a celebration of "youth and freedom" aimed at energizing student activists. The lineup of speakers brings some of the Republican Party's biggest voices, like former President Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, Senators Ted Cruz and Rick Scott, and Friday night's headliner, Governor Ron DeSantis.

Governor DeSantis, seen as a presidential contender, got big cheers for his push to keep Florida open amid COVID-19 lockdowns, and his opposition of a vaccine mandate.

"No Floridian should have to choose between a job that they need, and a shot," DeSantis said.

But he did choose to take a shot at President Joe Biden who recently contracted COVID-19.

"I want to, on the behalf of the state of Florida, wish President Biden a speedy recovery from COVID," DeSantis said. "I also want to wish the United States of America a speedy recovery from Joe Biden."

DeSantis hit most of his top issues, bashing what he calls "woke ideology," celebrating a ban of Critical Race Theory in schools, as well as his push to get civics education back in.

Talking points aside, he offered advice to students looking to take a political stand.

"In times like these, it's not enough to just be right on the issues," DeSantis said. "There's no substitute for courage. You've got to have the courage of your convictions. You've got to have backbone. You've got to be willing to stand up when it's not easy."

Saturday brings networking events and breakout sessions along with the main speaker, former President Donald Trump. He's set to take the stage around 6:20 p.m.

Saturday morning could also bring a little more pushback. Several groups are planning a "Don't Fascist our Florida" protest against the event, gathering right outside the Tampa Convention Center.