Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis and his wife Casey DeSantis talk to supporters during an election night vigil at the Convention Center in Tampa, Florida on November 8, 2022.
Giorgio Viera | AFP | Getty Images
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the launch of his 2024 presidential campaign on Wednesday, putting the Republican nominee on a collision course with the former president. Donald Trump in the race for the GOP nomination.
DeSantis was scheduled to announce his run in person during a Spaces Twitter conversation with Elon Musk on Wednesday night, but the plan was derailed after the site repeatedly crashed and many others suffered. massive glitches. Investor David Sacks, who was on the call with DeSantis and Musk, blamed server problems stemming from about 500,000 users who logged in to listen. Musk then started a new Twitter Spaces where DeSantis announced his presidential candidacy.
That second stream hosted more than 300,000 listeners at its peak — well below the prime-time average for most cable news networks, even those that have recently suffered rating goes down.
In a tweet after the stream ended, DeSantis’ press secretary, Bryan Griffin, argued that the glitch-filled rollout only showed the candidate had a lot of enthusiasm. He added that the campaign had raised $1 million online in one hour.
DeSantis was scheduled to appear on Fox News Wednesday night at 8:00 PM ET.
In a video posted on Twitter Wednesday ahead of the event, DeSantis criticized Democratic policies on immigration, crime and education in rhetoric similar to that used by Trump and his other GOP rivals.
“I’m running for president to lead our great American comeback,” he said.
Meanwhile, DeSantis, who officially filed papers to launch his campaign on Wednesday as well signed the promissory note this makes it easier to run for president and changes Florida’s so-called resignation to run law.
The long-awaited announcement marks the culmination of years of buzz surrounding DeSantis, 44, whose opposition to Covid-era lockdown rules and willingness to engage in polarizing cultural battles has quickly made him a Republican darling.
It also causes DeSantis’ simmering rivalry with Trump, burying their once-close relationship, as some in the GOP look to replace the former president as their party’s standard-bearer.
Trump has been pounding the governor with vicious attacks for several months. Trump and his allies have attacked DeSantis’ record, his political skills and even his personality while amplifying negative messages about the governor. One pro-Trump PAC even cut an ad featuring an anecdote about DeSantis eating pudding with his fingerswhich the governor has denied.
Read more: DeSantis brings a history of trade battles to the presidential campaign
Trump’s aggression may have paid off. Polls of the potential primary field have shown DeSantis, once Trump’s close competitor, consistently is losing ground months, even as the governor toured key battlefields and collected them politics wins with his state’s GOP legislature.
Quinnipiac University vote released earlier Wednesday underscored the governor’s picture: Republican and GOP-leaning voters chose Trump over DeSantis by a more than two-to-one margin, 56% to 25%, in line with the hypothetical primary field. That result showed Trump extending his gains and DeSantis losing ground previous Quinnipiac poll in late March.
The long-awaited campaign
The move was no surprise: DeSantis was even considered a 2024 presidential candidate before end of the 2020 election cycle. While he has been mostly coy about his presidential ambitions, the governor has in recent months released and political memoirsshe held events for donors and conservative groups, embarked on a multi-state speaking tour, and released a style campaign videos touts his successes in Florida.
Meanwhile, his allies were hard at work building a a well-funded political operation which acted as a de facto campaign for the governor’s upcoming presidential bid.
Super PAC Never Back Down, founded by former Trump administration official Ken Cuccinelli, has already raised tens of millions of dollars encouraging DeSantis to run for president. A person familiar with the group’s activities confirmed to CNBC that it expects to operate with a total operating budget of at least $200 million.
That figure, first reported by The New York Times , could include more than $80 million that DeSantis allies are expected to try to get out of the governor’s old statewide policy committee — a controversial transfer that campaign finance experts.
DeSantis, a Yale- and Harvard-educated lawyer, was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012 and became a founding member of the conservative Freedom Caucus before resigning to run for governor of Florida in 2018.
Trump endorsed DeSantis in that gubernatorial primary, putting DeSantis on the ballot and prompting him to cut an ad featuring his family that includes a number of Trump’s political slogans and catchphrases. DeSantis’ closeness to Trump went beyond his rhetoric, with critics saying the governor’s body language and hand gestures looked like mirror Trump is sometimes.
DeSantis he won handily primary and narrowly defeated Democrat Andrew Gillum in the general election.
As governor, DeSantis’ populist rhetoric and focus on divisive social issues quickly gained a national reputation.
During the coronavirus pandemic, DeSantis moved faster than other states to lift public health-related lockdown measures, arguing that the shutdown hurt Florida’s economy. These and other moves coincided with an influx of new residents into the state, but drew the ire of health experts and local officialsespecially in later cases of Covid soared.
DeSantis also sparked controversy when he joined GOP efforts to protest the president Joe Biden‘s border policy according to flying planes with migrants to the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard.
Meanwhile, his support for a controversial law limiting discussion of sex and gender in public schools, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics, has grown into an ongoing battle with Disney which lasted more than a year.
Disney, one of Florida’s largest employers, has publicly opposed the bill, joining critics who say its vague language could lead to the targeting and marginalization of LGBTQ teachers and children. DeSantis and his allies responded to criticism of Disney by targeting Walt Disney World’s long-held special tax district and vowing to end the “corporate kingdom.” Disney has since sued DeSantis and others in federal court, accusing the governor of orchestrating a campaign of political retaliation against the company.
DeSantis also received a the main pre-presidential reinforcement from the Republican supermajority in the Florida Legislature, which rushed to pass the governor’s sweeping agenda and clear the way for him to launch a White House bid.
DeSantis has spent the past few weeks signing a slew of new legislation, enhancing his carefully crafted image as a conservative cash-straw fighter. He signed laws mandating brand new abortions limitations, release concealed weapons rules, expanding his state’s school voucher system, limiting ESG investing and banning public universities from spending on diversity programs, among others.
The powerful anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America praised DeSantis in a statement Wednesday afternoon, stopping short of his full support.
The governor took Florida “from a late-night abortion haven to one of the best states in the country for unborn babies and mothers,” the group’s president said. “We look forward to DeSantis and all the contestants further outlining their pro-life vision and platform as the primary unfolds.”
In a state where the population is growing, but Democratic registration is fallenDeSantis’ opposition to the Covid safety rules and his perceived left-wing political enemies have been powerfully rewarded. In the 2022 Florida gubernatorial election, he defeated his Democratic opponent, former Rep. Charlie Crist, winning by more than 20 percentage points.
This time he did it with virtually no help from Trump.
With DeSantis’ profile on the rise, Trump’s view of the governor has soured. Shortly after the November midterms, Trump he lamented at “Ron DeSanctimonious”, one of several strange nicknames for DeSantis, along with “Ron DeSanctus” and, supposedly“Meatball Ron.
Trump was hurt by his loss Biden, fallout from the Capitol riots on January 6, 2021, and the underperformance of many of his handpicked midterm candidates. Despite these bruises—and his escalating legal troubles, including his indictment in a Manhattan prosecution case and his finding responsible for sexual abuse and defamation in another case – Trump is the current top choice of the GOP for 2024.