Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has officially entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination for 2024, announcing his White House bid on Twitter after filing his intentions earlier in the day with the Federal Election Commission.
Driving the News: DeSantis has sought to to position himself as a culture warrior who will carry on Trump’s legacy as a fighter without the attendant baggage, including fundamental concerns over the former president’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election and at least one criminal indictment.
- As recently as a few months ago, DeSantis was seen as a potential front-runner for the nomination. However, his poll numbers have fallen and some donors are expressing reservations after DeSantis appeared to stumble.
- DeSantis has spent the last few weeks renewing his effort to hold out Florida as a model for conservatives nationwide, a key part of his campaign. DeSantis’ supporters use the slogan: Make America Florida.
- Although DeSantis frequently rails against the “liberal elite,” he has impeccable elite credentials: He attended Yale University and then went to Harvard Law School.
- Before becoming governor, DeSantis served in the House and was a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, an ultra-conservative faction. His three-term voting record in Congress showed a politician drawn to small government.
- DeSantis’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a hallmark of his journey to political stardom. He signed orders that banned vaccine and mask mandates for Floridians, and his appointed surgeon general was a skeptic of vaccine effectiveness. He reopened schools and in-person dining many months before COVID-19-cautious states such as California.
What they’re saying: Florida is “where woke goes to die,” DeSantis bragged during a recent visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, echoing language he used after he won reelection in November. “In Florida, we say clearly: ‘We will never ever surrender to the woke mob.’”
- While DeSantis’ willingness to up the ante on culture war issues has elevated his standing on the right, it has made him a villain on the left. “What he has done in Florida has been a really destructive force on American politics,” said Tony Hoang, executive director of Equality California.
- DeSantis has mostly steered clear of attacking Trump directly, though he took a swipe after Trump’s recent indictment for paying hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump has also taken aim at DeSantis, dubbing him “DeSanctimonious” and running an attack ad making fun of his predilection for eating pudding with his fingers.
- Trump has regained his place as the clear front-runner for the 2024 GOP nomination, leading DeSantis by close to 30 percentage points in many surveys. DeSantis, 44, now seems to be hoping that Trump, 76, will face another round of concern about his viability in a general election.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>I’m running for president to lead our Great American Comeback. <a href=”https://t.co/YmkWkLaVDg”>pic.twitter.com/YmkWkLaVDg</a></p>— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantis) <a href=”https://twitter.com/RonDeSantis/status/1661491799393964034?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>May 24, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>