Governor Ron DeSantis Continues to Test the Waters of 2024; Supporters Are Getting Restless

Despite growing restlessness, Governor DeSantis, who just wrapped up Florida’s two-month legislative session and must still deal with the state budget, is continuing to take his time announcing a possible bid for the presidency.

DeSantis’ reluctancy to announce his candidacy underscores the challenge he may face if he doesn’t join the race against a former president who continues to retain the support of the GOP base.

The Florida governor must decide how to set himself apart from former President Donald Trump without alienating Trump supporters. The move is complicated, given how closely he aligned himself with Trump during his first run for governor in 2018.

During the Saturday sold-out dinner event for the Republican Party of Marathon County, the governor focused on his record instead of making a direct case for why he should be president.

“In Florida, we deliver big victories every single day,” said DeSantis, adding that he had continued to put conservative principles before political expediency. “A leader is not captive to polls. A leader gets ahead of the polls. A leader sets a vision, executes on that vision, and delivers results.”

Governor DeSantis spoke on his main talking points, receiving a standing ovation when he criticized Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was in charge of the nation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and said Florida had chosen “freedom over Fauci-ism.”

DeSantis is expected to announce his candidacy for the GOP nomination soon

DeSantis is expected to announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination in the next few weeks. He has been organizing a robust political operation in Tallahassee, Florida, meeting with donors and campaign staff.

Saturday in Wisconsin, the Florida governor engaged in retail politics he usually avoids, signing autographs, taking selfies, and shaking hands. However, he left quickly after his remarks.

Representative Tom Tiffany, Wisconsin’s representative of the 7th Congressional District and Trump ally, introduced DeSantis and praised his November landslide reelection.

Tiffany said the governor “is showing how it’s done to the rest of the United States of America.”

As Gov. DeSantis stays on the sidelines of the presidential contest, some of his backers have publicly urged him to declare and have grown anxious. An announcement would allow DeSantis to make a stronger case for himself as the Republican with the best chance of defeating President Joe Biden.

The rural central and northern Wisconsin counties surrounding the area where Governor DeSantis spoke are frequently referred to as Trump Country. The former president carried Marathon County with 56% of the vote in 2016 when he won Wisconsin and 58% in 2020 when Biden won the state.

However, Wisconsin hasn’t always been in former President Trump’s corner. During the 2016 GOP primary, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas won the state, which suggests donors and voters could be open to an alternative to Trump.

The Republican speaker of the state assembly, Robin Vos, has frequently clashed with Trump and said in a phone interview that DeSantis would be “a great addition to the race.”

“He’s got a good record,” said Vos, although he said it is too early to make an endorsement. “He’s aggressive and assertive in his beliefs.”