Ron DeSantis: Will He or Won’t He?

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has become a favorite among conservatives and Republicans. Many on the right would like to see him run for the highest office in the land in 2024 if former President Donald Trump decides not to seek office again. Indeed, many have speculated that DeSantis is angling for a White House run. But recently, the governor seemed to put the kibosh on predictions of a presidential run.

Fox News reported that on Tuesday, DeSantis “dispelled rumors that he may be running for president in 2024,” and called the rumors “purely manufactured.”

During a press conference, DeSantis said: “I just do my job and we work hard … I hear all this stuff and honestly, it’s nonsense.”

Fox News observed:

DeSantis’ remarks on the subject come just days before he headlines a Nebraska event with other potential 2024 candidates to celebrate agriculture on Sept. 12 in Nebraska City. During the gathering, DeSantis will speak alongside former Vice President Mike Pence and Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. The event will also correspond with Gov. Pete Ricketts’ annual steak fry, which is being held at Arbor Lodge Historical Park.

For his part, it has been revealed that Trump will travel to Iowa in October for a rally. This would be his first trip back to the state since the 2020 election, which has predictably fueled speculation as to whether he will run again in 2024. Back in April, Trump indicated he would consider selecting DeSantis as his running mate if he does decide to run again. “I endorsed Ron and after I endorsed him, he took off like a rocket ship,” he said. “He’s done a great job as governor.”

In June, DeSantis edged out Trump in a straw poll conducted at the Western Conservative Summit. Out of 31 choices, the Florida governor received 74 percent approval while Trump received 71 percent.

It would certainly come as a surprise if DeSantis does not decide to run. Over the past year, he seems to have already been positioning himself for such a run. His dogged opposition to COVID-19 orders and mask mandates have made him a darling on the right. Indeed, he has been one of the foremost voices on the right when it comes to the hot-button issues of the day.

DeSantis’ decision to ban mask mandates in the classroom, while not as popular in Florida, has earned him plaudits from many on the right. Moreover, it has earned him the scorn of the activist media and Democrats who insist he is putting children’s lives in danger, which is another factor that has driven his popularity among conservatives.

The governor also imposed a ban on the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Florida’s classrooms. In a press conference, he indicated that if the state has a play “Whack-A-Mole” to ensure that Marxist indoctrination is not occurring in the classroom, it will. He said:

“You know, you can put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig. … So what we’re doing, the Department, the Florida Board of Education is meeting, and they are addressing this. And I told them they need to address this. And we’ve got to do it. … It’s offensive to the taxpayer that they would be asked to fund Critical Race Theory. That they would be asked to fund teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other.”

DeSantis has also come out strongly against Big Tech censorship. Earlier this year, he signed a bill that would punish social media companies for silencing voices based on political affiliation.

China has also been an issue on which DeSantis has been strong. Like Trump, the governor has been an aggressive critic of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its operations on American soil. He signed legislation designed to curb the CCP’s influence in Florida.

DeSantis has become a prominent voice on the right when it comes to the culture war. His vocal stances on CRT, COVID-19 restrictions, and mandates have made him a rising star in the conservative movement, and it is difficult to believe this was not by design.

To put it simply, I’m not buying it.

DeSantis is merely engaging in the typical coy response that politicians give when they are asked about seeking higher office. They always deny it at first – especially when the next election is far away. The only way the governor will not run for president in 2024 is if Trump announces his candidacy. And even then, it seems unlikely that Trump would not choose DeSantis as his running mate.

Of course, this does not guarantee that he would win the nomination. But it is clear that he is a favorite, not just because of his stances on the issues, but because of his manner as well. As I’ve written previously, many have acknowledged that DeSantis has most of Trump’s strengths without any of his weaknesses.

DeSantis has taken the type of pugilistic attitude towards the left-wing activist media that made Trump so well-loved on the right. He has not backed down from calling out the dishonest reporting that is rife in American’s media environment today. The governor becomes particularly aggressive when outlets like CBS or CNN publish blatantly deceptive reports about his administration.

The landscape for GOP presidential candidates has not taken shape yet. Several people will likely join the race if Trump decides against running. But regardless of how the field looks, DeSantis will be a frontrunner.