Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Candidacy for Republican Nomination for President in 2024

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has officially announced his candidacy for the Republican Party nomination for president in the 2024 election.[0] DeSantis, a staunch conservative and ally of former President Donald Trump, has been making headlines in recent months for his critiques of Trump’s leadership during his time in the White House. Despite once seeking and campaigning on Trump’s endorsement in his 2018 race for governor, DeSantis has never before publicly criticized the former president in such a direct and forceful manner.

DeSantis has also made clear that, if elected, he plans to push the limits of executive power like never before.[1] He has described his agenda as a plan to “re-constitutionalize” the federal government, which would involve disciplining bureaucracies and agencies that he sees as “detached from constitutional accountability.”[2] This approach is in keeping with how DeSantis has led from Tallahassee, where he has systematically strengthened the powers of the governor in unprecedented ways.[1]

Critics have accused DeSantis of authoritarianism, pointing to his deployment of the state’s police force in novel ways, his creation of a law enforcement team to monitor voting, his removal of a democratically elected local prosecutor, and his orchestration of a takeover of a small liberal arts college. DeSantis has defended his actions as constitutional, describing his use of state power as deliberate and tactical.[1] He has said that he studied an “exhaustive list” of the governor’s constitutional authority before taking office and would use “every lever available to advance our priorities.”[1]

DeSantis’s candidacy has been met with both enthusiasm and skepticism within the Republican Party.[3] Some see him as Trump’s strongest challenger since 2016, while others doubt his national viability and worry about his authoritarian tendencies.[4] Wealthy GOP donors have also expressed doubts, particularly after his escalating tit for tat with Disney and his signing of a six-week abortion ban in April, which is widely viewed as a general election liability.[5]

Regardless of whether DeSantis wins the Republican nomination or the presidency, his authoritarian style is likely to be embraced by fellow Republicans seeking to emulate his success.[5] DeSantis himself has said that he dreams of replicating his “Florida blueprint” at the national level.[5] His governing style is seen as the logical evolution of Trumpism, from a chaotic politics of reprisal to a calculated system of repression and power-grabbing.[5]

In his first full day of presidential campaigning, DeSantis held a series of interviews with friendly conservative commentators and announced in-person events in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina next week.[6] His campaign reportedly raised $8.2 million in the first 24 hours, according to a campaign spokesperson.[1] DeSantis has also been assailing Trump on conservative airwaves, criticizing his fiscal irresponsibility and support for amnesty for undocumented immigrants. He has said that Trump’s Covid-19 mitigation policies “destroyed millions of people’s lives” and that his “day one” priority would be to fire the former president’s handpicked FBI director, Christopher Wray.[7]

Despite his critiques of Trump, DeSantis has also suggested that he might consider pardoning the former president if he faced federal charges, along with many other people, including defendants charged in connection with the January 6, 2021, storming of the Capitol.[2] DeSantis has accused the Department of Justice and FBI of being “weaponized” and has pledged to be aggressive in issuing pardons for those who are victims of “weaponization” or political targeting.[6]

DeSantis’s candidacy reflects the current state of the Republican Party, which is torn between Trump’s continued influence and a desire for a new direction. DeSantis is seen by some as a bridge between these two factions, but he will need to walk a political tightrope to be seen as “electable” by Republican donors and “MAGA without the mess” by Republican primary voters.[8]

0. “Ron DeSantis’ Critics Think Wife Casey Has ‘Overestimated’ Their Florida Success as They Gear Up for a Presidential …” Yahoo Life, 24 May. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/ron-desantis-critics-think-wife-181630279.html

1. “DeSantis going after Trump like never before” CBS News, 26 May. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/miami/news/desantis-going-after-trump-like-never-before/

2. “DeSantis launch interview nets 30 percent audience bump for Fox News” The Hill, 25 May. 2023, https://thehill.com/homenews/media/4021414-desantis-launch-interview-nets-30-percent-audience-bump-for-fox-news

3. “Can DeSantis Make a Second First Impression? – Abe Greenwald, Commentary” Commentary Magazine, 19 May. 2023, https://www.commentary.org/abe-greenwald/can-desantis-make-a-second-first-impression

4. “What Ron DeSantis’ Florida Agenda Could Mean for America | Time” TIME, 18 May. 2023, https://time.com/6280707/ron-desantis-time-cover

5. “Ron DeSantis Is All In—on Creating an American Autocracy – Mother Jones” Mother Jones, 25 May. 2023, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2023/05/ron-desantis-autocracy/

6. “After Twitter Launch Glitches, DeSantis Plans Traditional Campaign Stops” The New York Times, 26 May. 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/25/us/politics/desantis-2024-campaign-twitter.html

7. “DeSantis is going after Trump like never before” CNN, 26 May. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/05/25/politics/desantis-trump-strategy/index.html

8. “Why Ron DeSantis hasn’t even scratched the surface of the harm he’s capable of” MSNBC, 24 May. 2023, https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/msnbc-opinion/ron-desantis-2024-presidential-election-twitter-announcement-rcna84911

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