Florida's Republican governor is currently polling behind Donald Trump
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will announce his 2024 presidential campaign at a Twitter event with Elon Musk on Wednesday, Fox News has reported. Considered a likely candidate for months, DeSantis enters the Republican field as the closest challenger to former President Donald Trump.
DeSantis and Musk will host an event on Twitter Spaces, the site's platform for lectures and live audio discussions, Fox News confirmed on Tuesday. DeSantis' campaign will release a video after the event, and the governor will begin visiting early voting states in June, NBC News reported shortly afterwards.
DeSantis has been listed in opinion polls as a likely candidate ever since he won a second term as governor of Florida by a landslide 19 points in 2022. While he remained tight-lipped about actually entering the race amid attacks from Trump, he recently released a book and embarked on a nationwide tour - stopping in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
As governor of Florida, DeSantis won praise from Republicans and condemnation from Democrats for refusing to impose lockdowns, mask requirements, or vaccine mandates during the Covid-19 pandemic. He has also banned the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools, outlawed sex-change procedures on minors, expanded gun rights, and signed what his office called "the strongest anti-illegal immigration legislation in the country" earlier this month.
Whereas Trump first brought many of these issues into the political mainstream, supporters of DeSantis argue that the governor has managed to turn Trump's culture war gripes into effective legislation without getting bogged down in the verbal spats with the media and political opponents that characterized Trump's presidency.
Trump, however, has called Desantis a "globalist," who will cater to the whims of the GOP's corporate donors and continue to pour billions of dollars into foreign conflicts. Last month, Trump accused DeSantis of being a "proxy candidate" for the "Bush machine."
Both candidates oppose NATO involvement in the conflict in Ukraine, but whereas Trump has promised to cut off the supply of arms to Kiev and arrange a ceasefire "within 24 hours" if elected, DeSantis has stated that he would draw the line at supplying fighter jets and long-range missiles, and would not allow the US to become "further entangled" in the conflict.
Most opinion polls show Trump as the frontrunner to take the Republican Party's nomination, with DeSantis the only other candidate reaching double-digit support. A Morning Consult poll taken last week showed Trump with a 43-point lead on the governor, while an average of all major polls by RealClearPolitics currently shows Trump at 56% and DeSantis at 19%, a 37-point gap.
The Morning Consult survey also showed Trump beating President Joe Biden by 45% to 38% if the 2024 election were held this month, but DeSantis losing to Biden by four points.