DeSantis joins 2024 presidential race, setting up showdown with Trump

(FILES) Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis waves to supporters at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting on November 19, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. —AFP

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has filed the necessary paperwork to launch his 2024 presidential campaign, setting the stage for a potentially bitter showdown with former President Donald Trump. The move signals the start of an intense 18-month rivalry as the two battle for the Republican nomination.

Despite being considered a rising star within the Republican Party, DeSantis has faced constant attacks from Trump, which has damaged his political standing. Trump, despite being embroiled in a criminal investigation, has surged in popularity, leading to DeSantis’ arrest.

The 44-year-old governor filed his candidacy documents with the Federal Election Commission hours before announcing his schedule, which was a live chat with billionaire Elon Musk on Twitter’s audio platform. The launch was accompanied by a video from DeSantis’ pro-Never Back Down organization, showing his victory speech in the November 2022 election, where he declared that “Florida is the place to wake up.” die.”

The announcement came before a three-day retreat in Miami, where top DeSantis donors gathered to receive campaign briefings. After the retreat, the governor plans to visit several early voting states to fuel his campaign.

DeSantis, seen as the most viable challenger to Trump, enjoys a level of recognition in the Republican field but lacks the national profile that the former president commands. The launch format gives him a unique advantage by giving him access to Elon Musk’s massive following, many of whom belong to Trump’s base. If he secures the nomination, DeSantis hopes to capture the attention of younger and less conservative voters, which could be crucial to his White House aspirations.

During his tenure as Florida governor, DeSantis has focused on bolstering his conservative credentials. He has signed a number of state laws, including measures targeting “wake indoctrination” in schools and public institutions, bans on discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation, cuts to funding for diversity promotion at universities. , and include strict abortion laws.

However, DeSantis faces an uphill battle as policy missteps drag down his approval ratings. Closing the substantial polling gap between him and Trump, who has a significant lead despite legal difficulties, will be a difficult task.

Behind the scenes, both the Trump and DeSantis camps are seeking political endorsements from state lawmakers, while Florida’s congressional delegation has largely backed Trump. Elon Musk, a well-known DeSantis fan, hosted the campaign launch event but made clear that Twitter’s neutrality on the nomination should not be mistaken for an endorsement.

In response to DeSantis’ announcement, Trump has been relatively restrained, sharing only favorable polling on his social media platform, Truth Social. A Trump aide remarked that making the announcement on Twitter suited DeSantis, allowing him to avoid direct media interactions and questions.

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