Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis files presidential bid paperwork
MIAMI (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis entered the 2024 presidential campaign Wednesday, joining a crowded Republican primary race that will test both his national stature as a right-wing advocate and the party’s willingness to leave former President Donald Trump behind.
The 44-year-old Republican submitted his documents to the Federal Election Commission and will later hold an online conversation with Twitter CEO Elon Musk.
It’s a new chapter in his extraordinary rise from largely unknown lawmaker to two-time governor of Florida and a prominent figure in bitter disputes over race, gender, abortion and other contentious issues. DeSantis is considered Trump’s biggest rival for the Republican nomination, though many question whether he’s ready to break into the national scene.
The announcement of his candidacy will be broadcast audio-only on Twitter Spaces beginning at 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT). He will then appear in prime time on conservative shows like Fox News and the Mark Levin Radio Show.
The rumor that DeSantis would join the race had been running for months, and he is considered one of the Republicans most likely to wrest the White House from Democrat Joe Biden. Republicans say the 80-year-old president has veered too far to the left and has failed to deal with problems such as inflation, immigration and crime.
The Republican who wins the primary will face Biden in the November 2024 general election.
DeSantis starts his campaign alongside Trump in a front row of two, based on polling, fundraising and campaign infrastructure.
The two applicants have a lot in common.
DeSantis, who probably wouldn’t have been Florida’s governor without Trump’s endorsement, has embraced Trump’s fiery personality, populist policies and even some of his rhetoric and mannerisms.
Still, DeSantis has something Trump lacks: He can make the case that he would be more electable than the former president, who faces various legal threats and is coming off presiding over Republican defeats in three straight national elections.
Just six months ago, DeSantis won his re-election in Florida by a staggering 19 percentage points, while Republicans in other states were losing. He also recorded several legislative victories in the session of the legislature, controlled by his party.
But while he is a heavyweight in Florida and appears regularly on Fox News, his wingers acknowledge that he is little known in other states.
A Florida native with family roots in the Midwest, DeSantis studied at Yale University, then studied law at Harvard and served as an officer in the US Navy Attorney General, a position that took him to Iraq and the field Guantanamo detention.
He came to Congress in 2012 and was a founder of the Freedom Caucus, a far-right bloc in the legislature.
Despite his track record, friends and enemies alike point to his lack of charisma and mental quickness on the campaign trail, which are often characteristic of winning candidates at the national level. As governor, he has gone to great lengths to avoid unscripted public appearances and press surveillance, which is difficult, if not impossible, for a presidential candidate.