WASHINGTON, D.C. — Despite the fact that he is yet to announce a run for president in the 2024 election, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis emerges as the only viable candidate with a chance to challenge former President Donald Trump.
As the rivalry between DeSantis and Trump heats up, other Republican players have started announcing their candidacies. First out was Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor and Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations.
Although she has received large donations from powerful backers, enthusiasm over Haley’s announcement was lukewarm at best among political commentators and social media influencers.
In addition, the fact that Haley has been linked to globalist power core the World Economic Forum – having graduated as a “Young Global Leader” in 2011 – is likely to make her less popular with the Republican base, which rejects the radical agendas driven by Davos and its leader, Klaus Schwab.
Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, an outspoken critic of the “woke” agenda, ESG regulations as well as other Leftist and corporatist inventions, has also announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination.
In many respects, Ramaswamy’s political goals are similar to Trump’s and DeSantis’ – to defeat wokeism, gender ideology, climate religion, COVID-ism and revive concepts like patriotism, hard work and faith, according to an interview in Des Moines Register. He wants to spend the first six months of his presidency fixing as many issues as possible, before the establishment can launch a counteroffensive.
“Donald Trump wanted to drain the swamp,” Ramaswami told the newspaper. “I think in some ways the swamp drained him. But it’s not his fault. It’s just the reality of the way this administrative state eats its own.”
POPULATING THE FIELD
Other Republican politicians that sources say may consider a 2024 run are notoriously unpopular with the party’s base, especially with the America First movement. There doesn’t seem to be much about former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott or Texas Senator Ted Cruz that gets most Republicans across the country excited.
Despite not standing a chance of being elected commander-in-chief, these mainstream Republicans may still play decisive roles in the upcoming primary. Haley, Pence, Pompeo and Cruz could steal votes from the top candidates, and this is more likely to hurt DeSantis than Trump, given that the Florida governor’s image is more of a disciplined, articulate and traditional Republican politician than a boisterous maverick outlier like Trump. One could speculate that populating the field with candidates who may take votes from DeSantis could be one of Trump’s strategies to secure a win.
IT’S THE ECONOMY – AND THE BORDER
According to a recent American Principles Project poll of sentiments among 1,000 likely GOP primary voters, respondents say that the most important issues facing the nation are the economy and inflation, immigration and the wide-open U.S. southern border.
Issues that used to rile up the Republican base, such as abortion, are taking a back seat – which may indicate that America has entered crisis mode.
Worth noting is also that according to the poll, a Republican candidate who wants to keep funding Ukraine is seen as unfavorable by 50 percent of respondents. The survey also indicates that DeSantis is more popular among moderate Republican voters, whereas the playing field between the two candidates is nearly level among very conservative Republicans.
Other recent polls provide a contradictory picture of who comes out on top in a Trump-DeSantis showdown.
According to a Los Angeles Times/IGS poll released on February 24, California primary voters would prefer DeSantis (39 percent) over Trump (29 percent).
Conversely, a recent Harvard-Harris poll suggests that Trump leads DeSantis by a wide margin (66 percent to 44 percent) when respondents were asked who would get their vote in a Republican primary.
This Sunday’s endorsement from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush may look good on the surface and further bolster DeSantis’ support among mainstream Republicans – especially those Floridians who think that Bush did a good job as governor. However, looking at the nation at large, it could potentially have the opposite effect.
America First Republicans who have been sitting on the fence between Trump and DeSantis are no fans of the Bush dynasty, at least from looking at social media chatter. To this group of the electorate, it seems that the endorsement serves as validation of stubborn rumors that DeSantis is a “deep state” candidate who – despite the physical evidence of his comprehensive efforts to fight the radical Left – secretly represents the old powers that be.
Comparing Ron DeSantis to the late former President George H.W. Bush and stating that they both were captains of the Yale University baseball team is unlikely to hit a home run with Republican grassroots voters in the post-COVID environment.
Moreover, shining a positive light on DeSantis’ alleged equitable and efficient distribution of COVID-19 vaccines – as Brian Kilmeade and Jeb Bush do in the video – appears bizarre given that DeSantis himself has spoken out regarding the dangers of the mRNA products.
TRUMP’S INSULTS BACKFIRE
Trump received heavy criticism from Republican commentators after his recent and recurring attacks on DeSantis. The former president has accused the Florida governor of being a “RINO GLOBALIST” and got creative with his insults, calling DeSantis “DeSanctimonious,” “Meatball” among other epithets. DeSantis, on the other hand, has refused to take Trump’s bait and kept his responses to the former president’s barrages metered and civil.
This behavior proved mostly unpopular with the Republican base and commentators alike, and Trump dropped in the polls. Another factor that presents a great threat to Trump securing the nomination is his staunch defense of the COVID-19 vaccine program. This represents a total disconnect between the former president and his base.
BETTER NEXT TIME?
However, after releasing a video on February 21, stating that “we need to clean house of all the war mongers and the ‘America Last’ globalists in the deep state, the Pentagon, the State Department and the National Security industrial complex,” Donald Trump scored points with voters who hope that the former president will do better against these forces during a second term than what he was able to accomplish in the first.
DeSantis’ record on medical freedom, combating the ESG “scam,” ensuring parental rights in education and disparaging globalists like the World Economic Forum indicate that he is doing the actual work, rather than just providing talking points.
Despite this, it seems like his main challenge is to convince the Republican grassroots voters beyond any doubt that he is not beholden to the agendas of the old Republican guard, transnational oligarchs and Beltway bandits.