Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has the typical elite credentials of a U.S. presidential candidate, including a cum laude from Yale and Harvard Law Schools and a Bronze Star for military service. . The 2024 Republican nominee and seen as Donald Trump’s political successor, the man is well on his way to re-election on Nov. 8. But he may find Trump casting a long shadow.
Ron DeSantis has a Trump problem. The man being touted as the 2024 Republican nominee needs to get the former president on his side, given that Trump still has some clout as a kingmaker. But he also needs to maintain enough distance to appeal to conservative voters who have turned their backs on Trump.
Several quarters have already predicted that DeSantis is the leader of the Republican opposition and likely to become the Republican nominee. An August article in the National Review, a standard-bearer for American conservatism, claimed DeSantis was the true “leader of the opposition,” for pursuing a conservative cause that other politicians have hesitated. He praised DeSantis.
In 2018, Trump attended a rally in Florida, calling DeSantis a “brilliant young leader” and endorsing him when he ran for governor. But with DeSantis facing re-election, that support is clearly lacking.
The two men have a subtle rivalry, with DeSantis avoiding directly criticizing Trump or challenging Republican supremacy, dismissing speculation about 2024. DeSantis has deftly sidestepped the question of whether he believes the last election was stolen from the former president.
However, he has embraced some of the more extreme ideas put forth by election deniers.In an interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Nov. 6, 2020, he said he would not be able to win Joe Biden’s nomination three days after the presidential election. The day before was called for, DeSantis suggested that state legislatures could overturn the result by nominating pro-Trump electors. Voting results.
DeSantis, 44, has also embraced much of the far-right “culture wars” argument, choosing to go full anti-mask during the Covid-19 pandemic and teach Critical Racial Theory (CRT) in schools. Prohibited. The idea is that racial inequality is systemic and therefore inherent in, for example, the US criminal justice system, even though CRT has no formal place in school curricula.
He launched a move to ban math books deemed too “awoke” in his state and a controversial move to limit discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools in Florida. And even before the U.S. Supreme Court moved to overturn the Roe v Wade ruling, DeSantis decided to end abortions after 15 weeks by signing a law banning surgical abortions. took part in the controversy.
DeSantis came under fire in September for moving unsuspecting immigrants to Democratic states. A costly, cruel to many critics, political stunt designed to counter the anti-immigrant right wing. He is now facing an investigation by the Treasury Department over whether he misused federal pandemic relief funds to fly two planes of Venezuelan immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard.
Despite the controversy, such a militant and high-profile move helped raise DeSantis’ national profile. Stephan Lawson, head of public relations for the DeSantis re-election campaign, suggested it was a way to strengthen his support base without challenging Trump directly.
Lawson told ABC, “What he’s doing is continuing to elevate his fame and name ID, his conservative entitlement to a wider audience.”
“In other words, ‘I’m going to get all the good things without the bad of going head-to-head with Trump,'” Lawson added.
Perhaps befitting of someone being viewed as a potential Trump successor, DeSantis has been given falsehoods and exaggerations as well.
But there are also notable differences. DeSantis has publicly expressed concern about the growing US deficit that began to balloon during Trump’s presidency. Both downplay the effects of global warming, but DeSantis supports legislation to combat rising sea levels and protect the Everglades.
DeSantis has also criticized Ukraine’s aggression and has backed tougher sanctions against Russia, with Trump saying Ukraine should consider a deal with Vladimir Putin.
The New York Times cited one of DeSantis’ allies who said the governor’s political brand resembled “competent Trumpism.”
Trump continues to lead DeSantis in national polls asking Republicans who they want to represent in 2024, though polls in some states have DeSantis beginning to oust the former president. DeSantis set a new gubernatorial campaign giving record, with his fundraising surpassing Trump in the first six months of the year, according to OpenSecrets, an NGO that tracks .
DeSantis may also be able to draw on endorsements from a large number of Republican “Nevertrumpers.” Some of them have since voted Democrats.
“There are a lot of established Republicans coming home for DeSantis,” David Jolly, a former Republican congressman from Florida who worked for DeSantis and then became an independent, commented to The Washington Post in September.
DeSantis “has adopted Trump’s playbook in Florida and is doing Trump-like things…but he’s actually getting an arm out of Trump,” Jolie added.
And while Trump gave his critics and political opponents no squares, DeSantis sought to show that he could rise above politics if necessary.
DeSantis praises President Joe Biden for declaring a state of emergency, thereby freeing up federal funding for Florida and allowing agencies to coordinate relief efforts ahead of Hurricane Ian in late September. “We are grateful to the Biden administration for their consideration of the people of Florida during this difficult time,” DeSantis said.
It was a change of tone for DeSantis, who regularly uses the president as a political foil to criticize him on issues ranging from Afghanistan to Ukraine to vaccine mandates.
From Harvard to Gitmo
When DeSantis took office in 2019, at age 40, he was the youngest governor of Florida in a century. His official biography always described him as a “native Floridian with blue-collar roots” and followed a prestigious trajectory from Yale to Harvard to his law school (he studied both). graduated with honors).
DeSantis completed the Naval Justice School in 2005 and the following year was assigned to work as a military attorney at a detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. According to Tampa reports, his responsibilities included ensuring that detainees were treated according to the law. Bay Times.He then served as legal counsel to his SEAL commander in charge of Special Operations Forces in Fallujah during the 2007 U.S. military “surge” in Iraq.
After active duty, DeSantis served as Assistant US Attorney for the Central District of Florida.
A former guest columnist for right-wing periodicals such as the National Review and The Washington Times, DeSantis, in his 2011 book, The Founding Fathers’ Dream: The First Principles of the Founding Fathers, explores how former U.S. President Barack Obama I tried to elaborate on how it deviates from the basic American principles. Age of Obama”.
DeSantis was first elected to Congress in 2012 as a representative of Florida’s 6th District. During his first term, he co-founded the Freedom His Caucus, a group of far-right conservative lawmakers. He also became a frequent guest on Fox News and gained the endorsement of the ferocious anti-Obama right-wing movement, Tee His Party, before being re-elected in 2016.
A rift in the Republican Party?
By the time Trump took office in 2017, DeSantis was one of his most vocal supporters. And when he announced that he would run for Governor of Florida, he won Trump’s endorsement and won the post the following year.
However, the similarities between the two men, once a source of affinity, may now emerge as a source of conflict.
Rolling Stone magazine, citing a Trump insider, said the former president accused DeSantis of “stealing” some of his mannerisms. It depicts them talking side by side on a split screen, highlighting the similarities.
“DeSantis certainly mimics Trump’s style, rhetoric and body language,” Dan Everhart, a longtime Republican contributor, told Rolling Stone, noting that DeSantis’ “bombastic” style is “Donald Trump’s.” It seems to have been pulled straight from the style guide,” he added.
Everhart has donated to Trump in the past, but said he wants to support someone like DeSantis in the upcoming presidential election.
Several US media outlets have cited sources who say Trump is unhappy with DeSantis’ rise. The Washington Post reported that Trump called the governor “ungrateful” and told his advisers, “I made him.”
And while Trump announced in late October that he would address Senator Marco Rubio’s rally in Miami the weekend before Election Day, he did not mention addressing crowds in Florida in support of DeSantis. I didn’t.
DeSantis has endorsed the Republican Senate candidate from Colorado and said he would “actively” campaign against Trump if he runs again in 2024.
It remains to be seen how much the two men will be able to avoid open confrontation over the party’s leadership amid reports that resentment is boiling under the surface.