When Ron DeSantis was overwhelmingly re-elected governor of Florida in last November’s election, it seemed a sign that the Republican was ready for the big leap to become the party’s presidential nominee in 2024.
Governor Ron DeSantis, who four years earlier had won by less than half a percentage point, managed to defeat Democratic challenger Charlie Crist by nearly 20 percentage points. And all without the support of Donald Trump, his longtime fierce critic.
Since then, rumors of his possible candidacy in the Republican primaries have become more and more insistent. Until they have become practically a certainty, although his descent into the field is not official yet. At the moment, besides Trump, only Nikki Haley and Asa Hutchinson have made their candidacy official.
Republican presidential race, De Santis vs Trump
But the initial enthusiasm around the Florida governor, seems to have given way to doubts and uncertainties.
This is due to the fact that Trump not only remains the favorite. But he is also increasing support in the base and racking up supporters in Florida itself, scaring the rival and his entourage in no small part.
According to reports by Nbc News, DeSantis reportedly began calling Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation to solidify support after four of them publicly endorsed Trump. The operation began after the former president picked up the endorsement of Congressman Byron Donalds. Who has been an ally of DeSantis.
The three previous endorsements had been Congressmen Anna Paulina Luna, Matt Gaetz and Cory Mills. Who are longtime Trump supporters and whose endorsement surprised no one.
Trump attacks rival DeSantis
But Trump shows confidence and has already gone on the attack against his possible rival. “He is a young man who is not doing well against me in the polls, to put it mildly. I believe that if he decides to run for president, all he will do is split the Republican Party. And, lose the beloved and massive MAGA (Make America Great Again, ed.) vote. And he will never be able to run again,” the tycoon wrote in a post on his Truth social media site.
According to a poll last week by Reuters and Ipsos Trump is leading the race for the Republican nomination by a wide margin. With 58 percent of Republicans saying he is their favorite candidate. This is a figure is up from 48 percent just days earlier. While DeSantis is second with 21 percent.
Paradoxically, the trial of the former president, who was indicted by the Manhattan court on 34 counts, increased grassroots support. Which considers the judges’ intervention a political attack.
In an effort to launch a charm offensive, the Florida governor will travel to Washington in these days. Thus marking a rare return to the U.S. capital. There he will meet with Republican members of Congress and conservative leaders at a party event on April 18.
DeSantis has rarely spent time in Washington since leaving Congress in 2018. His return will likely be closely watched for its reception among Republican congressmen and senators. Most of whom have not yet declared their preference in the primaries.
To show he is as much if not more of a radical candidate than Trump, DeSantis unveiled in Florida a broad package of measures. These represent the toughest crackdown on undocumented immigration by any state in more than a decade.