In other words, it was supposed to look presidential.
The undeniable backdrop to DeSantis’ second term is his likely 2024 presidential bid, a move that would put him on a collision course with former President Donald Trump, who declared his candidacy in mid-November after Republicans, including his endorsed candidates, underperformed in the midterm. Trump’s endorsement catapulted DeSantis to victory in 2018, but the relationship between the two has soured as the likelihood of a White House-centric collision creeps closer to reality.
Much of DeSantis’ 16-minute speech Tuesday focused on Florida’s juxtaposition during his first term with other states and the federal government. He did not mention President Joe Biden by name, but devoted much of his time to criticizing the current president’s policies, including immigration, pandemic restrictions and inflation – themes that we not often found in inauguration speeches at the state level.
“Florida’s success was made more difficult by the floundering federal establishment in Washington, DC,” DeSantis said. “The federal government has embarked on an inflationary spending spree that has weakened our country and impoverished our citizens. He enacted pandemic restrictions and mandates — based more on ideology and politics than solid science — and that eroded freedom and stunted trade.
DeSantis didn’t provide any details on his top priorities for his second term, and he didn’t mention gun rights or increasing restrictions on abortion, though he did express interest in doing so. advance legislation in both areas that could support a presidential candidacy.
“If he runs, he’ll be a great alternative, but I’m not going to prejudge whether he runs or not,” said Jeb Bush, the only former Florida governor to attend the inauguration, and whose 2016 presidential campaign ended with Trump. “He has proven himself as the governor of the greatest state.”
“It’s a great platform to race on,” he added.
For most of 2022, DeSantis was often ahead in early 2024 Republican presidential primaries or neck and neck with Trump. DeSantis has brushed off questions about his plans to run for president, but many Republicans are clamoring for his candidacy, especially those who have grown weary of the constant drama and legal battles surrounding Trump, or those who have never backed him since. the beginning.
DeSantis’ first term was defined, in part, by an evolving style of governance. His first two years were marked by policies that earned him cautious bipartisan support and approval ratings of around 60%. In recent years, however, he has focused on issues that excite his right-wing base, such as fighting Covid-19 mandates or “woke” K-12 and preschool classes. ‘Higher Education. Tackling these issues built his reputation nationally and turned him into one of the Democrat’s biggest political boogeymen.
His remarks on Tuesday leave little doubt that his second term will be defined by a continued focus on culture war battles as he builds his domestic resume ahead of announcing a likely presidential bid, with many expecting that that it declares itself in the spring.
“We reject this woke ideology. We seek normality, not philosophical madness. We will not allow reality, facts and truth to become optional,” DeSantis said, tapping into the kind of partisan rhetoric that has become his calling card. “We will never surrender to the woke crowd. Florida is where the revival is going to die.
DeSantis enters his second term with a huge political tenure. He won his re-election bid by a historic 19 points over Democrat Charlie Crist, helping the GOP to huge top-to-bottom victories in the midterm ballot. That gives DeSantis significant momentum heading into the 2023 Florida legislative session, which begins functionally this month and should set the stage for his presidential announcement.
“The governor’s landslide victory on election night combined with his national profile makes him the most powerful elected official in Florida history,” said Nick Iarossi, lobbyist and co-chair of DeSantis’ inaugural committee. “With so much political capital, he is clearly in the driver’s seat to shape politics in Florida in his second term.”
Democrats have decried DeSantis’ rise because it has been fueled in large part by what they see as policies aimed at harming marginalized communities, and a concentration and rewiring of long-standing norms, particularly the system state education. DeSantis, for example, has defended civics classes that some teachers have criticized as too conservative and lacking in opposing viewpoints.
“I listened to his speech, and I think we can expect the same with greater intensity,” said House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa). “He pulled out a lot of dog whistle stuff today. They will keep calling anyone they don’t like. We’ve heard more about parental rights, which will only be more attacks on the LGBTQ+ community.
“He didn’t address any state-specific issues,” she added. “It was aimed at primary voters and donors.”