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DeSantis set to formalize offer, making rivalry with Trump official


MIAMI (AP) — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis entered the 2024 presidential race on Wednesday, competing in a crowded Republican primary that will test both his national appeal as an outspoken cultural conservative and the will of the GOP to move on from former President Donald Trump.

The 44-year-old Republican revealed his decision in a Federal Election Commission filing ahead of an online conversation with Twitter CEO Elon Musk.

It marks a new chapter in his extraordinary rise from little-known congressman to two-term governor to a leading figure in the nation’s bitter struggles over race, gender, abortion and other divisive issues.

DeSantis is considered Trump’s strongest Republican rival, even as the governor faces questions about his far-right policies, campaign persona and lack of connections in the Republican ecosystem. Still, he has generated considerable interest among GOP primary voters by casting himself as a younger, more eligible version of the 76-year-old former president.

DeSantis’ audio-only ad was scheduled to air on Twitter Spaces beginning at 6 p.m. EDT, followed by appearances on conservative programs including Fox News and Mark Levin’s radio show. He was also hosting a donor event at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Miami on Wednesday.

The Republican nominee is expected to face Democratic President Joe Biden in the November 2024 general election ballot.

DeSantis joins a field that also includes former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Former Vice President Mike Pence is also considered a likely presidential candidate but has yet to announce a candidacy.

DeSantis and Trump have a lot in common.

DeSantis, who probably wouldn’t have become governor of Florida without Trump’s endorsement, embraced the former president’s fiery personality, his populist policies and even some of his rhetoric and mannerisms.

Yet DeSantis has one thing his rival doesn’t: a credible claim that he may be more eligible than Trump, who faces multiple legal threats, including criminal charges in New York, and who has presided over the Republican losses in three consecutive national elections.

DeSantis just six months ago won re-election in Florida by a stunning 19 percentage points — even as Republicans in many other states struggled. He also won several major political victories in the Republican-controlled spring session of the Legislature.

Aware of DeSantis’ draw, Trump has focused almost singularly on undermining his political appeal for months. Trump and his team believe DeSantis may be Trump’s only legitimate threat to the nomination.

Hours before the announcement, Trump argued in a social media post that “Ron DeSanctus” can’t win the general election or the GOP primary because of his previous votes in Congress on Social Security and the Health Insurance.

“He is in desperate need of a personality transplant and to my knowledge they are not medically available yet,” Trump added. “A disloyal person!”

Trump allies sent a truck past DeSantis’ scheduled donor meeting to air an attack ad describing him as “a swamp creature.” The Democratic National Committee sent another truckload warning of DeSantis’ “extreme MAGA agenda.”

Kitchen sink attacks and nicknames won’t be DeSantis’ only obstacle.

He’s a political heavyweight in Florida and a regular on Fox News, but his allies acknowledge that most primary voters in other states don’t know him well.

A Florida native with family roots in the Midwest, DeSantis attended Yale University, where he played baseball. He would go to Harvard Law School and become a general officer of the Navy Judge Advocate, a position that took him to Iraq and the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

He ran for Congress in 2012 and won an Orlando-area district, becoming a founding member of the far-right Freedom Caucus on Capitol Hill.

Despite his lengthy resume, friends and foes alike note that DeSantis struggles to display the campaign charisma and quick thinking that often define successful candidates nationally. He went to great lengths to avoid unscripted public appearances and media scrutiny while serving as governor, which is difficult, if not impossible, as a presidential candidate.

In an example of his level of media avoidance, his official Twitter account for the governor posted a photo shortly after the FEC filed – a signed bill surrounded by dozens of bikers for legislation to reduce crashes motorcycle in Florida. The media were not notified of the event in advance.

Late Wednesday, DeSantis’ office announced that he had signed a sweeping election bill that contains a provision allowing him to run for president without resigning as governor, exempting himself from a state rule. known as “resigning to run”.

Would-be supporters also worry that DeSantis has refused to invest in relationships with party leaders or other elected officials, raising questions about his ability to build the coalition he would ultimately need to defeat Trump. By contrast, Trump has clawed back an army of supporters in key states, including Florida.

Beyond the primary, DeSantis’ biggest long-term challenge may lie in the far-right policies he embraced as governor as an unabashed leader in what he calls his “war on awakening”.

The governor of Florida sent dozens of immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts to draw attention to the influx of Latino immigrants trying to cross the US-Mexico border. He signed and then expanded the Parental Rights in Education Bill – known to critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” Act, which prohibits classroom teaching or discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in schools. Florida public schools for all levels.

More recently, he signed a law banning abortions at six weeks, which is before most women realize they are pregnant. And he removed an elected prosecutor who has sworn not to indict people subject to Florida’s new abortion restrictions or doctors who provide gender-affirming care.

DeSantis also signed legislation this year allowing Florida residents to carry concealed firearms without a license. He pushed for new measures that critics say would weaken press freedom. He also took over a liberal arts college which he said indoctrinated students with left-wing ideology.

The governor’s most publicized political fight was against Florida entertainment giant Disney, which publicly opposed its “Don’t Say Gay” law. In retaliation, DeSantis has taken control of the governing body of Disney World and installed loyalists who threaten to take over planning for the park, among other extraordinary measures.

DeSantis threatened to build a state prison adjacent to the park property.

The dispute drew condemnation from business leaders and his Republican rivals, who said the moves contradicted small-government conservatism.

DeSantis delayed his campaign announcement until after the Florida legislative session. But for much of the year he has been courting primary voters in key states and using an allied super political action committee to build a large political organization that is essentially a pending campaign and is already calling for at least 30 million dollars in the bank.

More than any of his opponents except perhaps Trump, DeSantis is well positioned to start thanks to the super PAC’s months-long effort to install campaign infrastructure in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and La South Carolina, which will host the first four contests on the GOP Main Calendar early next year.

DeSantis gave no indication of his plans at a meeting of the state clemency board on Wednesday morning in Tallahassee, where he granted several pardons to former prisoners charged primarily with drug-related crimes there. decades old.

“You are what the country needs,” one man said after being pardoned.

A smiling DeSantis laughed and thanked him.


People reported from New York. Izaguirre reported in Tallahassee, Florida.

California Daily Newspapers

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