Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis launches 2024 GOP presidential marketing campaign to problem Trump
By STEVE PEOPLES, ADRIANA GOMEZ and ANTHONY IZAGUIRRE
MIAMI — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis entered the 2024 presidential race on Wednesday, stepping right into a crowded Republican main contest that can take a look at each his nationwide attraction as an outspoken cultural conservative and the GOP’s willingness to maneuver on from former President Donald Trump.
The 44-year-old Republican revealed his determination in a Federal Election Fee submitting earlier than a web based dialog with Twitter CEO Elon Musk.
It marks a brand new chapter in his extraordinary rise from little-known congressman to two-term governor to a number one determine within the nation’s bitter fights over race, gender, abortion and different divisive points.
DeSantis is taken into account to be Trump’s strongest Republican rival even because the governor faces questions on his far-right insurance policies, his campaign-trail character and his lack of relationships throughout the Republican ecosystem. Nonetheless, he has generated vital curiosity amongst GOP main voters by casting himself as a youthful and extra electable model of the 76-year-old former president.
DeSantis’ audio-only announcement was to be streamed on Twitter Areas starting at 6 p.m. EDT, adopted by appearances on conservative packages, together with Fox Information and Mark Levin’s radio present. He additionally was holding a donor occasion on the 4 Seasons Lodge in downtown Miami on Wednesday.
The Republican nominee is anticipated to face Democratic President Joe Biden on the final election poll in November 2024.
DeSantis joins a area that additionally contains former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Former Vice President Mike Pence can also be thought of a possible presidential candidate however has not but introduced a bid.
DeSantis and Trump have a lot in frequent.
DeSantis, who possible wouldn’t have develop into the Florida governor with out Trump’s endorsement, has adopted the previous president’s fiery character, his populist insurance policies and even a few of his rhetoric and mannerisms.
But DeSantis has one factor his rival doesn’t: a reputable declare that he could also be extra electable than Trump, who faces a number of authorized threats, together with prison prices in New York, and who presided over Republican losses in three consecutive nationwide elections.
DeSantis, simply six months in the past, received his reelection in Florida by a surprising 19 proportion factors — at the same time as Republicans in lots of different states struggled. He additionally scored a number of main coverage victories throughout the Republican-controlled Legislature’s spring session.
Conscious of DeSantis’ draw, Trump has been nearly singularly targeted on undermining his political attraction for months. Trump and his crew consider that DeSantis could also be Trump’s solely authentic menace for the nomination.
Hours earlier than the announcement, Trump argued in a social media put up that “Ron DeSanctus” can not win the final election or the GOP main due to his earlier votes in Congress on Social Safety and Medicare.
“He desperately wants a character transplant and, to the most effective of my information, they don’t seem to be medically out there but,” Trump added. “A disloyal particular person!”
Trump allies dispatched a truck exterior DeSantis’ deliberate donor assembly working an assault advert describing him as “a swamp creature.” The Democratic Nationwide Committee despatched one other truck warning of DeSantis’ “excessive MAGA agenda.”
The kitchen-sink assaults and nicknames received’t be DeSantis’ solely hurdle.
He’s a political heavyweight in Florida and a daily on Fox Information, however allies acknowledge that the majority main voters in different states don’t know him effectively.
A Florida native with household roots within the Midwest, DeSantis studied at Yale College, the place he performed baseball. He would go on to Harvard Regulation Faculty and develop into a Navy choose advocate normal officer, a place that took him to Iraq and the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
He ran for Congress in 2012 and received an Orlando-area district, turning into a founding member of the far-right Freedom Caucus on Capitol Hill.
Regardless of his prolonged resume, associates and foes alike observe that DeSantis struggles to show the campaign-trail charisma and quick-on-your-feet pondering that always defines profitable candidates on the nationwide stage. He has gone to nice lengths to keep away from unscripted public appearances and media scrutiny whereas governor, which is troublesome, if not not possible, as a presidential contender.
In an instance of his stage of media avoidance, his official Twitter account for governor posted a photograph shortly after the FEC submitting — a invoice signing surrounded by dozens of bikers for laws to assist cut back bike accidents in Florida. The media was not notified of the occasion forward of time.
Would-be supporters additionally fear that DeSantis has refused to put money into relationships with celebration leaders or fellow elected officers, elevating questions on his means to construct the coalition he would in the end have to beat Trump. In contrast, Trump has scooped up a military of endorsements in key states, together with Florida.
Past the first, DeSantis’ best longer-term problem could relaxation with the far-right insurance policies he enacted as governor as an unapologetic chief in what he calls his “struggle on woke.”
The Florida governor despatched dozens of immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Winery off the Massachusetts coast to attract consideration to the inflow of Latin American immigrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. He signed after which expanded the Parental Rights in Schooling invoice — recognized by critics because the “Don’t Say Homosexual” legislation, which bans instruction or classroom dialogue of LGBTQ+ points in Florida public faculties for all grades.
Extra not too long ago, he signed a legislation banning abortions at six weeks, which is earlier than most ladies notice they’re pregnant. And he eliminated an elected prosecutor who vowed to not cost folks underneath Florida’s new abortion restrictions or docs who present gender-affirming care.
DeSantis additionally signed a legislation this yr permitting Florida residents to hold hid firearms with no allow. He pushed new measures that critics warn would weaken press freedoms. He additionally took management of a liberal arts school that he believed was indoctrinating college students with leftist ideology.
The governor’s highest-profile political struggle has come in opposition to the Florida-based leisure big Disney, which publicly opposed his “Don’t Say Homosexual” legislation. In retaliation, DeSantis seized management of Disney World’s governing physique and put in loyalists who’re threatening to take over park planning, amongst different extraordinary measures.
DeSantis has threatened to construct a state jail on park property.
The dispute has drawn condemnation from enterprise leaders and his Republican rivals, who mentioned the strikes are at odds with small-government conservatism.
DeSantis delayed his marketing campaign announcement till Florida’s legislative session was over. However for a lot of the yr, he has been courting main voters in key states and utilizing an allied tremendous political motion committee to construct a big political group that’s primarily a marketing campaign in ready and already claims at the least $30 million within the financial institution.
Greater than any of his opponents, besides maybe Trump, DeSantis is positioned to hit the bottom working because of the tremendous PAC’s monthslong efforts to put in marketing campaign infrastructure throughout Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, which can host the primary 4 contests on the GOP’s main calendar early subsequent yr.
DeSantis gave no trace as to his plans throughout a gathering of the state clemency board Wednesday morning in Tallahassee, the place he granted a number of pardons to former prisoners charged largely with drug-related crimes many years in the past.
“You’re what the nation wants,” one man mentioned after getting his pardon.
A smiling DeSantis chuckled and thanked him.
Peoples reported from New York. Izaguirre reported in Tallahassee, Florida.