After months of speculation, Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, filed his candidacy for the race for the White House this Wednesday, May 24. The 44-year-old governor was eagerly awaited by some Republicans who are looking for an alternative to Donald Trump, with whom he shares some of the ideas, but with a more civilized tone.
To launch his campaign, Ron DeSantis chose to surprise. He has planned a live exchange on Twitter on Wednesday evening (French time), a great first. It was Elon Musk himself, the owner of the blue bird platform, one of the richest men on the planet, who was to meet with the candidate. A first choice of campaign which is surprising when less than 20% of Americans use this social network and Elon Musk is a controversial personality. By buying the platform, he had also said that “to deserve the public’s trust, Twitter must remain politically neutral”. Two days ago, the billionaire ured that he had no intention of supporting this or that candidate. Can we believe it? Last July, he claimed that DeSantis would not even need to campaign to beat Biden… And in November, he answered “yes” to the question “Do you support DeSantis? “. Either way, DeSantis’ announcement is a good publicity stunt for Musk, who promised “real-time, unprepared Q&As.”
Once officially in the running, DeSantis will pursue a more clic strategy. Right after his announcement, he will host a fundraising dinner at a luxury restaurant in Miami. He will increase his trips to the American states that vote first, such as New Hampshire or Iowa, with the aim of proving the lie to all those, Trump in mind, who accuse him of totally lacking personality. Its political action committee (PAC), called Never Back Down, (“Never back down”) already has 110 million dollars and plans to raise some 100 million more very quickly, mainly from billionaires, often from Silicon. Valley, like…Musk. From Thursday, he will recruit volunteers and employees for the campaign. Objective: to have 2,600 organizers in place by early September.
A formidable opponent now stands before Donald Trump and the battle for the Republican Party nomination promises to be fierce. If the ex-president enjoys an average lead of 30 points in the polls, it was before the governor entered the arena. Trump has been bombarding DeSantis with harsh criticism for months without him really reacting. Everything should change in the days and weeks to come. And in this battle, the four other declared candidates, who together total barely 10%, will have a hard time being heard.
But faced with this new competitor, the former tenant of the White House has not played all his cards. Trump’s coffers are also full… The ex-president has the unwavering support of his base, the experience of national campaigns, the support of dozens of governors and Republican deputies, including several… from Florida. But he remains surrounded by his legal affairs and he has created a lot of enemies in the Republican ranks.
DeSantis is much more than “a mini-Trump but without the charm of the latter,” as Nikki Haley, a rival for the nomination, mocked. While the two candidates share a right-wing economic program, DeSantis has stood out above all for his resolutely conservative positions in the culture wars that are tearing the country apart: against well-meaning (the famous “Wokism”), against the mandates compulsory vaccinations (a position welcomed by Musk at the time), against the teaching of ity in primary school, against the possibility of obtaining an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, for very strict immigration control, etc. So many positions that risk handicapping him if he is the one who finds himself facing President Biden in November 2024.
Still at the end of the winter, the Trump camp was hoping that his base support and his rise in the polls would convince DeSantis not to stand in the way of the ex-president. And to reserve for the presidential election of 2028. Bad calculation. The race is on.