What comes next is more difficult. with Donald trump card DeSantis is expected to announce a 2024 presidential bid on Tuesday, DeSantis must decide whether he is ready for the political fight of his life by challenging the former president for the Republican nomination.
DeSantis’s calculus will no doubt be affected by Trump’s increasingly being viewed as toxic by some Republicans who blame him for the party’s disappointing performance in this week’s midterm elections.
Trump and the candidates he backs, they argue, lack the broad appeal needed to win elections — and they fear that after failing two years ago, he would do so again in 2024.
The man who defeated Trump in 2020, President Joe Biden, said this week that he intends to run for re-election and will make a final decision early next year. The Democrat is already the oldest president in American history, turning 80 later this month.
Trump would be the favorite in a primary matchup against DeSantis or another Republican. He remains hugely popular with the party grassroots and sits on a massive war chest that will only grow larger.
But signs of discontent among Republicans are mounting. On Thursday, the New York Post, owned by conservative titan Rupert Murdoch and long-time friendly to Trump, mocked him on its cover, calling him “Trumpty Dumpty,” pleading with others in the party to “put it back together.”
A day earlier, the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal ran an editorial in which he called Trump the party’s “biggest loser” and blamed him for staging smug demonstrations that fueled the rise of Democrats.
Trump showed signs of concern about DeSantis on Thursday and lashed out at him in a lengthy statement.
“Ron De Sanctimonious plays games! The Fake News asks him if he’s going to run when President Trump runs, and he says, ‘I’m only focused on the governor’s race, I’m not looking to the future,'” Trump said in the statement. “Well, in terms of loyalty and class, that’s really not the right answer.”
Some Republicans are concerned that Trump could obscure the chances of Herschel Walker, the former soccer star he recruited to run for the Georgia Senate, in his runoff election against Senator Raphael Warnock next month. Republican U.S. Representative Mo Brooks on Thursday begged Trump to stay out of the race.
A source close to Trump’s advisory team who asked not to be identified said the former president seemed intent on going ahead with his Tuesday announcement as otherwise it would be seen as a “sign of weakness”. Some Trump allies tried to persuade him to delay it.
MAN IN HURRY
DeSantis, on the other hand, has enjoyed positive coverage since he easily defeated Democrat Charlie Crist on Tuesday. Though he was hesitant about a presidential run, supporters chanted “Two more years!” at his victory celebration.
At 44, the former US congressman is more than three decades younger than 76-year-old Trump and would be a forward-looking contrast to octogenarian Biden.
He is especially popular with conservatives for taking the lead on culture war issues related to race and gender. Last year, he got into an argument with The Walt Disney Co. over his support of the controversial bill, nicknamed “Don’t Say Gay” by opponents, and which prohibits the teaching of gender identity concepts to young children.
DeSantis is a dynamic fundraiser and has raised more than $200 million since early 2021, breaking previous records for governmental fundraising. Trump has raised more than $170 million from various fundraising groups over the same period.
DeSantis spent time away from Florida this year to campaign for other Republicans and to build his national profile.
He has held back from criticizing Trump to avoid alienating the party base. Trump, on the other hand, has become more combative towards DeSantis, ridiculing him as Ron “DeSanctimonious” and boasting that he got more votes in Florida in 2020 than DeSantis did this week.
“I think there will be a huge appetite from the more normal wing of the Republican Party to run Ron DeSantis,” he said. Sarah Longwell, a Republican pollster and frequent Trump critic. “There will be a lot on paper that would make it look like he should run, but if Trump announces it, he’s scorched earth. He’s out to destroy DeSantis.”
Even if Trump mounts another presidential election, he will continue to face a dizzying array of legal challenges, including investigations into his efforts to undo the 2020 election and his removal of classified documents from the White House.
Some former Trump supporters say they would no longer support him.
“He divides. I don’t like him,” said two-time Trump voter Gordon Nelson, 77, when he voted for Republican candidates in Michigan on Tuesday.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Biden appeared amused at the prospect of Trump and DeSantis going head to head.
“It will be fun to see them compete against each other,” Biden said.
Voters are not excited about a second Biden term. About two-thirds of voters polled don’t want Biden to rejoin, including 43% of Democrats, according to exit polls conducted Tuesday by Edison Research.
Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist who was a top aide in Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, expects Biden to do just that anyway.
“Every time Joe Biden is told he can’t or shouldn’t do something, he’s managed to get it done,” Ferguson said.
If Biden did not rejoin, the Democratic field would likely be wide open, as it was in 2020 when more than 20 candidates lined up to take on Trump. While Vice President Kamala Harris may be seen as a potential favorite for the nomination, she will be saddled with even worse approval ratings than Biden.
Former candidates such as Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, as well as Senators Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren could have another shot.
A new class of Democratic governors could also participate, including California’s Gavin Newsom, New Jersey’s Phil Murphy, Illinois’ JB Pritzker, and Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer, who just won a decisive victory after a blood-curdling reelection campaign.
In addition to DeSantis and Trump, other Republicans considered potential candidates include former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley and Governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin.