Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Challenges Trump for 2024 Republican Nomination

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has officially announced his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, setting himself up as a direct challenge to former President Donald Trump. DeSantis, who had previously sought Trump’s endorsement during his own campaign for governor, has ramped up his attacks on Trump in recent months, accusing him of abandoning right-wing principles and running to the left.[0] Trump has responded by attacking DeSantis on his social media platform, Truth Social, calling his Twitter launch a “disaster” and his campaign “fatal.”

DeSantis’ candidacy presents a difficult choice for “Never Trump” Republicans and old-school conservatives, who must decide whether to support him as a potential savior for the GOP and the country, or oppose him as a slightly less toxic version of the same poison.[1] While DeSantis trails Trump in primary polls by over 30 points, he has been praised by those who have witnessed him operate, with one Republican state representative describing him as a “terminator.”[2]

DeSantis’ tenure as governor has been marked by controversy, including his suspension of a Democrat state attorney who had spoken out against strict abortion laws. DeSantis has defended Florida’s newly enacted six-week abortion ban against Trump’s criticism that it was “too harsh,” despite polls showing that a majority of Floridians support legal abortion.[3] DeSantis has also targeted businesses that defy him, such as Disney, leading to a bare-knuckled confrontation of competing lawsuits.[4]

DeSantis’ campaign launch on Twitter Spaces with Elon Musk was marred by technical glitches and focused on niche concerns of conservative insiders, leaving some voters unable to see his face and only a miniature lecturing avatar. Despite these challenges, DeSantis is determined to use “every lever available” to advance his priorities, according to his book “The Courage to Be Free.”[5] Whether he can use those levers to win the Republican nomination and defeat Trump remains to be seen.

0. “DeSantis accuses Trump of ‘running to the left’” The Hill, 26 May. 2023, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/4022266-desantis-accuses-trump-of-running-to-the-left/

1. “DeSantis is not giving sane conservatives reason to join his bandwagon” Newsday, 25 May. 2023, https://www.newsday.com/opinion/columnists/cathy-young/ron-desantis-donald-trump-2024-election-i0un1yec

2. “Ron DeSantis says Donald Trump is ‘running to the left’ as he begins attacking his Republican rival” The Telegraph, 27 May. 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/05/27/desantis-criticises-donald-trump-moving-left-2024-race/

3. “DeSantis takes on Trump directly now that he’s a candidate: ‘I don’t know what happened to Donald Trump’” Fortune, 27 May. 2023, https://fortune.com/2023/05/27/desantis-attacks-trump-presidential-candidate-gop/

4. “Opinion: Why DeSantis is just as dangerous as Trump – or more” CNN, 25 May. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/05/25/opinions/desantis-announcement-trump-2024-gop-nomination-warren-eisen/index.html

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

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