DeSantis takes advantage of ‘Trump fatigue’ ahead of potential 2024 showdown
Two weeks ago, Ron DeSantis accused the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol of beating a “dead horse.”
“Why didn’t they do hearings on more energy?” Why don’t they do inflation hearings? complained the governor of Florida.
Still, the stream of damaging allegations against former President Donald Trump that has been documented by the panel may well give DeSantis — and other potential Republican candidates — a boost as they consider a run for the post. White House in 2024.
Although Trump remains the de facto leader of the Republican Party, with a huge financial war chest and enduring popular support, there is strong pressure among the party’s main backers in business and finance to present a different candidate during the the next presidential election. There are also signs that voters could follow suit.
“There is an element of Trump fatigue within the conservative movement: among conservatives who initially disliked Trump, then grew to like him, and are now looking for someone new,” John said. Feehery, Republican strategist at EFB Advocacy. .
“I think who they land on, overall, is Ron DeSantis.”
Eric Levine, a litigation and bankruptcy attorney in New York and a frequent Republican donor in Congress, said he “smelled a movement away from Trump and people who were looking for a place to go because they wanted to win.” .
“It’s gone beyond him just being a jerk, people are horrified by his conduct after the election.”
Trump has repeatedly hinted at a potential run for a second term in 2024, but so far has not made a definitive announcement.
“I know he wants it and he intends to do it,” Kellyanne Conway, his former White House communications director, said this week on a podcast hosted by David Axelrod, the former strategist. Barack Obama’s policy.
“He feels like he has unfinished business.”
DeSantis, who has been governor of Florida since 2019, has established himself as the most viable alternative to Trump. He attracted Republican support by adopting the former president’s approach and policies, but without the same level of chaos. His rivals include Mike Pence, the former vice president; Mike Pompeo, former Secretary of State; and Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the UN; as well as lawmakers Tim Scott of South Carolina and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
“I think people are getting a little bolder. I think DeSantis is getting a little bolder,” Feehery told EFB Advocacy.
“Trump is still the king of the hill, and someone is going to have to have the guts to take him on. And it seems like now the guy with the most guts, who has a real chance, is DeSantis.
A University of New Hampshire survey released last month showed DeSantis trailing Trump by two percentage points in a putative presidential game in the New England state, which usually holds the first primary contest. It was particularly encouraging for the Florida governor because in October, Trump held a 25 percentage point advantage over DeSantis in New Hampshire.
A Yahoo News/YouGov survey this week found Trump leading DeSantis in a national head-to-head contest for the Republican nomination by a 44% to 33% margin. Among registered voters, this gap was smaller, from 45% to 36%.
According to an analysis of swing voters by Impact Social, a social media analytics firm, DeSantis has benefited from an increase in positive sentiment in online posts in recent weeks, as he has fallen for Trump.
“For these people, Trump is guilty of something, be it this insurrection, obstruction of justice and/or corruption and should be charged urgently,” according to the analysis, which was conducted between 15 and June 29.
“It’s not just liberals looking for revenge. Many of these messages are written by exasperated right-wing voters who see January 6 as an embarrassment and want the matter to end.
DeSantis still hasn’t said whether he’ll run for president, which could put him directly in Trump’s crosshairs. But his supporters have clearly started laying the groundwork for a campaign in case he intervenes.
In May, Lilian Rodriguez-Baz, a Miami attorney, and Ed Rollins, the prominent GOP strategist, created a new political action committee called Ready for Ron to promote him. They were backed when Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, said on Twitter last month that he was leaning towards supporting DeSantis in 2024.
“We are very pleased to see more and more business owners and more and more big names supporting DeSantis,” said Rodriguez-Baz, who serves as chief legal counsel for PAC.
“The point and goal of our PAC is to build that momentum so he’s persuaded to run when he sees how many people actually want him to be president in 2024,” she said.
Even as a potential battle looms, DeSantis and Trump have been reluctant to tackle head-on, though there have been signs of friction. The Florida governor refused to seek Trump’s endorsement for his re-election campaign, for example.
Rodriguez-Baz said there were only “rumors and whispers” about Trump’s possible bid for a second term, while DeSantis had “positioned himself very well as someone who is equipped and able to advance Trump’s American-first agenda.”
Among some Florida Republicans, support for a DeSantis run is indeed growing.
Armando Ibarra, president of the Miami Young Republicans, backed him up last week, saying “people really like [him]’ because he embodied ‘the future’ – and because he was willing to take on big business, including his clash with Disney over gay rights.
“A lot of people see that there have been imbalances and excesses in the operation of some of these companies. He challenges them on data privacy, on CRT and on Big Tech stuff. He challenges cultural monopolies,” Ibarra said.
But some lawmakers in the state capital of Tallahassee are less enthusiastic, believing DeSantis has spent more time nurturing his presidential ambitions than actually governing.
“He gets on a plane at 9:30 a.m. to do a press conference at 10 a.m. He will do a Q&A where he will attack [president Joe] Biden. Then he gets back on a plane, does a few hours of work, and does his best to get on Fox News in the evening,” one lawmaker said.
There are other questions hanging over DeSantis besides whether he can beat Trump and other rivals among Republican primary voters. Some wonder if he has strayed far enough from the former president or if he is seen as too extreme.
In New York, attorney Levine – who said he would turn his attention to the presidential election in early 2023 after the midterm elections conclude – said Republicans would be “better served” by a candidate who can win over suburban voters rather than his staunchly pro-Trump base.
Even though DeSantis wouldn’t be his “first choice,” he would still enthusiastically support him and thinks he’s gaining momentum.
“Is the support for DeSantis real? I think so,” Levine said.