Intense Battle for the 2024 US Presidential Election Heats Up! On the 24th, local time, 44-year-old Florida Governor DeSantis officially announced his entry into the race.
DeSantis formally submitted the paperwork to compete in the 2024 presidential election. In a campaign video released to the public, he declared, “The decline of America is not inevitable; it is a choice. We should choose a new direction—a path that leads to the revival of America… I am running for President of the United States to lead the great nation to its renaissance.”
DeSantis is not only seen by some Republicans as the “top rising star” capable of replacing former President Trump and securing the party’s nomination, but he was also previously considered a “protégé” of Trump. How likely is DeSantis to challenge his former mentor and secure victory?
Rising Star Emerges
Overwhelming Popularity in Re-Election as Governor in 2022
On November 9, 2022, the results of the Florida gubernatorial election in the US midterm elections were announced, and DeSantis secured a resounding victory with a nearly 20% lead in votes. Just an hour after the polls closed, he defeated his Democratic opponent, Crest, and easily secured re-election as governor. It is worth noting that in his first run for governor in 2018, DeSantis won by a slim margin of only 0.4% with the endorsement and support of then-US President Trump.
At the celebratory event for his re-election, a confident DeSantis smiled and waved to his supporters in the audience. He stated, “We not only won the election but also reshaped the political landscape.” The crowd responded fervently, shouting, “Two more years, two more years!”
It seems that supporters have already started envisioning another victory for DeSantis as he potentially sets his sights on the White House two years from now.
This overwhelming victory has elevated DeSantis’s image in the eyes of many Republicans, paving the way for him to vie for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. It has also set the stage for a potential competition between him and Trump.
DeSantis graduated with outstanding achievements from Yale University and Harvard Law School. Before entering politics, he served in the United States Navy and participated in military operations in Iraq with the troops, serving as a legal advisor for the Navy SEALs. In 2012, at the young age of 34, he was elected to Congress and emerged victorious in the 2018 Florida gubernatorial race.
American political news website Politico has taken a retrospective look at DeSantis’s journey and transformation. When he first assumed office as Florida governor, he was originally seen as a moderate figure. However, his governing style underwent a “dramatic shift” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. He signed executive orders banning schools from mandating mask-wearing, a controversial move that surprisingly earned him a favorable reputation among Republicans.
DeSantis also made headlines when he chartered a plane from Texas to transport dozens of immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, a vacation destination beloved by Democratic luminaries. This act was seen as a protest against the Democratic Party’s perceived mishandling of immigration issues. While Democrats criticized it as a “political stunt,” it was welcomed by some Republicans.
Today, when discussing DeSantis, Republican political consultant Pedicini, who advises the Florida GOP, states that this “rising star” is more popular in Florida than even Disney and Trump.
From "Protégé" to "Formidable Rival"
The Love-Hate Relationship with Trump
Compared to DeSantis’s youthful and composed image presented to the public, the impression of Trump is starkly different.
In November 2022, Trump had already announced his participation in the 2024 US presidential election. However, he currently finds himself embroiled in legal battles and facing a series of troubles. On March 30, 2023, he became the first former president in American history to face criminal charges in the “hush money” case.
Meanwhile, DeSantis’s ambitions have gradually come to light, as he continues to challenge Trump with sharp remarks.
He has made it clear in media interviews that Trump “likes to cause disruptions,” “hires people who contradict his publicly stated policy interests,” and “often leaks information to the news media.”
Perhaps feeling his own position threatened, Trump issued a statement specifically targeting DeSantis, calling him a “mediocre governor who plays political games.” Trump also warned DeSantis not to seek the presidency in 2024 and even hinted that he knew some unsavory information about DeSantis: “Maybe I know more about him than anyone, except maybe his wife.”
In fact, their relationship was completely different in earlier years. When DeSantis first ran for governor in 2018, he received full support from Trump. In one of his campaign ads, many “Trump elements” were featured, such as his children reading books with Trump’s image and name, and his children wearing “Make America Great Again” shirts.
At that time, DeSantis was dubbed the “Trump of Florida,” as he was seen as emulating most of Trump’s political style. Republican observers even referred to DeSantis as the “intellectual Trump” or “Trump 2.0.”
The former “protégé” has now spread his wings and seriously threatened the position of his “mentor.” After the 2022 US midterm elections, Trump lagged behind DeSantis in Republican polls.
However, surprisingly, after a series of dramatic events, Trump’s recent approval ratings have gradually rebounded. A May 17th survey by Morning Consult showed Trump with a support rate of 61%, while DeSantis had a support rate of only 18%, creating a 43-point gap between them.
Although DeSantis’s support has declined, it is widely believed that he remains Trump’s biggest competitor within the Republican Party.
The Next Game to Polish Qualifications
The 2024 Election Showdown: What Are the Odds of Winning?
It must be said that DeSantis still faces the real challenges ahead.
Public opinion believes that DeSantis has rarely faced substantive political pressure from the right wing of the Republican Party, let alone endured Trump’s “relentless attacks.”
Furthermore, if he openly confronts Trump, he may be accused of “ingratitude,” and he lacks substantial attacks that could pose a threat to Trump.
Moreover, DeSantis’s governing experience mostly comes from dealing with state affairs. To truly step onto the national stage and enter the White House, he will likely need further honing.
To enhance his own strength, DeSantis has recently made frequent visits abroad, hoping to polish his foreign policy credentials before vying with Trump for the Republican presidential nomination.
According to NBC News, since April, many politicians and individuals from related companies have flocked to the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee, seeking positions within DeSantis’s campaign team. Insiders say, “It feels like a team ‘recruiting and expanding’ rather than downsizing.”
Apart from DeSantis, several other individuals within the Republican Party have announced their candidacy for the US presidency, including former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. However, they struggle to gain significant support in opinion polls.
According to analysis by The Hill, considering Trump’s leading support within the party, he is highly likely to secure the Republican nomination for the next presidential candidate, while Biden lacks strong challengers within the Democratic Party. The 2024 election drama of “Trump vs. Biden” may once again take the stage.
However, perhaps this strong contender, DeSantis, will continue to run and ultimately lead the Republican Party in a battle against the Democrats. At this stage, as he stated in his speech after winning the 2022 midterm election, “My fight has only just begun.”