Ron DeSantis: A Young Hard-Line Republican Who Challenges Trump and Feared by Biden

Murad Jandali | a year ago




After a short wait since the midterm elections last November, in which he achieved a huge victory to renew himself as governor of the U.S. state of Florida, Republican Ron DeSantis recently announced his official candidacy for the U.S. presidency, which will put him in direct confrontation with former U.S. President Donald Trump, in the Republican primaries scheduled for the beginning of next year.

DeSantis’s name has been mentioned recently as the most capable of defeating Trump in the primaries, and removing him from the scene, especially with the escalation of the dispute between Trump and a large number of Republican leaders who expressed a desire to get rid of him after the legal cases that are still haunting the former president, which some in his party see as an obstacle to the continuation of his de facto leadership of the party.

However, several Republicans who hate Trump consider that eliminating the latter should not be done by maintaining Trumpism in another way.

DeSantis is widely seen as another face of Trumpism and populism, with some arguing that even Trump, after four years in the White House, may be more moderate than DeSantis himself.

It is noteworthy that DeSantis, who is currently counting on an election fund of $110 million in his confrontation with Trump, aims to appear differently to voters, which is that he is the new guard of the Republican Party.


Election Map

The map of the U.S. presidential elections 2024 is witnessing a critical crossroads following the launch of the campaign of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, relying on a proven record of achievements related to ultra-conservative values, which he achieved during his political career over the past years.

The importance of this event is not limited to DeSantis’ party (the Republican Party) and the Trump campaign but also extends to the camp of Democratic President Joe Biden; at the top of the calculations of the two parties is what DeSantis represents as a young candidate (44-year-old), while Biden has passed his 80, and Trump is close to his 77.

On May 24, 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced his candidacy to run in the upcoming U.S. presidential elections for the Republican Party to start a fierce battle against former President Donald Trump.

The winner of the Republican primaries early next year will compete against the candidate chosen by the Democratic Party, most likely current President Joe Biden, for the U.S. presidential race in November 2024.

“I am running for the office of President of the United States to lead our great American comeback,” DeSantis said at the launch of his presidential campaign on Twitter. Then he spoke about the future, which did not hesitate much in Trump’s or Biden’s speeches.

Trump’s team commented sarcastically, pointing to DeSantis’ poor ability to communicate directly with the public.

The Republican camp is crowded with many candidates, but there is a consensus supported by repeated opinion polls indicating a dual struggle over the party ticket between Trump and DeSantis.

But the young candidate’s road to the White House is riddled with obstacles. The governor, on whom a large number of conservatives pin their hopes in the presidential elections after his exciting re-election in Florida in November 2022, has Donald Trump ahead of him by a large margin, who has been officially nominated since November 16, 2022, according to a number of opinion polls.

In the latest opinion poll, Trump is ahead of the Florida governor by 42 points, according to a joint poll by Harvard University and Harris Corporation, the results of which were published by The Hill on May 19, 2023.

Trump got 58% of the voting intentions, compared to 16% for DeSantis, but the other candidates, including former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, even potential candidates such as former Trump Vice President Mike Pence (who is expected to announce his candidacy in the next few weeks), none of them exceeded 4%.


Hard-Line Republican

DeSantis, born on September 14, 1978, is an American of Italian descent. He is married to American journalist Casey Blake, and they have three children.

He graduated from Harvard Law School, then worked as an officer in the U.S. Navy and supervised the treatment of detainees in Guantanamo, then was sent to Iraq to train a team of U.S. Special Forces.

In 2012, DeSantis won Congress from Florida. He was a prominent opponent of the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama. He was re-elected to Congress in 2014 and 2016.

During his tenure in Congress, DeSantis was an ally of former President Donald Trump and frequently criticized Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations of links between the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

During his tenure in the White House in 2018, Trump strongly supported DeSantis’s inauguration as governor of Florida, threw his weight behind him and appeared with him at rallies, and played an important role in DeSantis’ victory over his Democratic rival Andrew Gillum, despite the margin being small.

In 2022, DeSantis was re-elected governor of Florida, but this time he outperformed his rival, Charlie Crist, by 19.4%, the largest margin in the state in 40 years.

During his time in office as Florida’s governor, DeSantis enacted ultra-conservative gun ownership laws, restricted gender identity education in schools, tightened voting rules, and limited abortions.

DeSantis said two weeks ago during his visit to Iowa: “We must reject the culture of losing that has impacted our party in recent years. The time for excuses is over.”

His statement was a hint to Trump, who still refuses to accept his loss in the 2020 presidential election, which many blamed for the Republicans’ disappointing results in last year’s congressional elections.

It is noteworthy that all of Trump’s attempts to block the way for the Florida governor to run for the U.S. presidency failed, ranging from announcing his candidacy early (last fall) or pressuring DeSantis, threatening him with files, or bullying him.

But with Trump still leading in the polls, DeSantis still has an important challenge: convincing some of his less ardent Trump supporters that he is a better version of the original Trumpism.

DeSantis’ agenda is a magnet for many Republican voters who voted for Trump in the last two elections. For them, DeSantis represents Trump’s hard-line policies without Trump himself and his undue fanfare.

In this regard, it seems that the Democrats are also disturbed by the candidacy of Ron DeSantis himself for the U.S. presidency, which may force Biden to confront a candidate younger than his son, Hunter Biden (53 years old).

DeSantis represents a nightmare for the Democrats, as he appears as a man who loves his family and has an attractive wife and three young children, which may attract a larger proportion of independents whose votes ultimately decide the swing states.

If DeSantis wins and appears in the presidential debates, the age difference will be very clear to American voters, in addition to Biden continuing to make mistakes due to his lack of mental fitness due to age, which DeSantis will exploit and highlight to independent voters.

For the Democrats, Trump represents an easier confrontation than confronting DeSantis, as the governor of Florida does not carry the legacy of 4 years in the White House, in addition to what the Biden campaign can exploit against Trump, especially his legal troubles that are not over yet.

In this context, a number of DeSantis’ senior aides confirm that the Florida governor will soon launch a strong campaign in a number of traditional swing states aimed at unleashing his youthful energy, in which he will attack his older rivals: Trump and Biden.


His Secret Weapon

Casey DeSantis (Casey Blake), Ron DeSantis’ wife, is not satisfied with the role she plays in softening his image as a hard-line conservative but rather goes beyond the matter to the extent that she is considered his first political advisor, and also considers her presence pivotal in his endeavor to win the Republican nomination for the U.S. presidential elections.

The former journalist (42-year-old) does not leave her husband during important events in Florida and deals comfortably with the microphone, benefiting from her previous experience as a broadcaster who is no less skillful in dealing with American voters.

Her image is still fresh as she collects donations and comforts the afflicted in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, which hit Florida last year, in an emotional gesture that her husband lacks the talent to show in his personality, according to critics.

“She is not only his closest and smartest advisor, she is his secret weapon,” Jared Moskowitz, a former DeSantis administration official who is now an elected Democrat, told The New York Times.

Casey DeSantis, just as conservative as her husband, has even been nicknamed the co-governor, being committedly involved in every decision.

Indeed, her influence is so great that some fear she is isolating DeSantis from his actual professional advisors.

She particularly advises him on his communication strategy, drawing on her experience as a local TV anchor, a profession she abandoned when her husband’s political career took off.


The Curse Of Florida

The disappointing start to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ campaign for the 2024 presidential election prompted a recall of what has come to be known as “the curse of Florida Man,” as Politico reported in its report on May 24, 2023.

DeSantis announced the start of his 2024 presidential campaign on Twitter, but a series of technical difficulties led to a delay of about 22 minutes. Then the broadcast was interrupted for a few minutes before the event was restarted from a different account.

The incident represented a heavy blow to the campaign of DeSantis, who many observers consider the Republican Party’s hope to return to the White House, eliminate Trump’s legacy, and defeat Biden electorally.

What is meant by the curse of Florida Man, according to the magazine, is the inability of any candidate from the state throughout American history to win the office of President of the United States, although more than 6 candidates from the state have joined the presidential race in the last 50 years, most of them never made it past the first primaries.

During the nearly 180 years since Florida joined the U.S. Union, no president has left Florida, nor has a president been born within its borders, making it the only state - among the 10 most populous states in the country - from which no one has reached the White House.

Florida is the third largest U.S. state in terms of population, and in terms of the number of its representatives in the Electoral College, after California and Texas, and ahead of New York.

Commentators believe that it is easy to win positions within the state, which is inhabited by more than 22 million people, and what this requires is to carry out electoral campaigns in a limited number of the state’s cities, villages, and counties, but it’s a completely different matter from grueling national election campaigns in 50 states other than Florida.

Linked to the curse of Florida Man is that it has become a preferred retirement home for U.S. presidents throughout its history, compared to any other state.

The last of them was Donald Trump, who moved to Florida after the end of his term in January 2021 and changed his official residence from Manhattan in New York to Palm Beach in Florida.

Now, with Trump and DeSantis running first and second in the early 2024 GOP presidential polls, Florida again has a prime opportunity to place a resident in the White House, or its curse will be confirmed if President Joe Biden wins a second term.