After months of speculation, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis officially announced he’s running for president.
He’s did it in an unconventional manner – during a liveWednesday evening Twitterevent with Twitter’s grand pooh-bah himself, Elon Musk.
Tech glitches aside (due to high listener demand), there was no better place for DeSantis to launch his campaign. Twitter is where the media congregates, so he was sure to get instant buzz. And throwing in Musk’s 141 million followers didn’t hurt. It also is a nod to how DeSantis prefers to sidestep what he refers to as the “legacy media.”
It made sense for Musk, too. As a newly minted Republican who has said that he’d support DeSantis if he got in the race, Musk (like DeSantis) has made fighting the “woke mind virus” a priority. It’s one of the reasons he bought Twitter.
What does ‘woke’ mean?For conservatives it’s so much more than political correctness.
DeSantis’ war on woke and the increasingly intolerant left has helped him emerge as a national figure, and his message has resonated with conservatives across the country.
Trump is the biggest obstacle to Ron DeSantis’ success
Of course, the elephant in the room is Donald Trump. Polling has shown the former president pulling away at a rapid clip from other Republican contenders. That includes DeSantis, who has been the only potential candidate besides Trump to break double digits.
Yet DeSantis has lost steam since late last year, when he was riding high off his 20-point reelection victory.
Republican strategist Dennis Lennox says it was a “tactical error” for DeSantis to delay getting in the race, and Trump’s many legal troubles have kept the former president in the limelight.
Trump has had no problem making digs at DeSantis, calling him names, belittling him and even threatening him. Until now, DeSantis has largely not responded, making only veiled comments related to Trump.
What about Trump?Freshly indicted Trump has gone from mocking DeSantis to begging him not to run. SAD!
DeSantis can’t waste time in bringing the fight directly to Trump.
“When you strike at the king, you must kill him,” Lennox says. “The only way to beat Trump is by delivering a knockout punch. You’re not going to beat Trump by campaigning as just Trump in better packaging.”
While the majority of Republicans are open to a candidate who isn’t Trump, his loyal base remains at a steady 30% of the party. Winning over even a portion of those voters won’t be easy, given the hold Trump still has on the GOP.
DeSantis enters an already crowded field
DeSantis is also dealing with an increasingly crowded field. South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott made his presidential bid official this week. And former Vice President Mike Pence is expected to announce his candidacy early next month.
Trump is stuck in the past.Other GOP candidates offer conservatives a brighter future.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who’s also a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy are also in the running.
I’ve always feared that the more candidates who get in the race, the better chance Trump will have to emerge as the forerunner – much like he did in 2016.
But DeSantis has a running start, having worked on raising his national profile for more than a year. He has proved a strong fundraiser, outpacing even the former president.
Now, DeSantis will have to get busy laying his ground game across the country, which Lennox describes as a “Herculean effort.”
“Lots of people say they’re running for president but few are actually running for president,” Lennox says. “The nomination is decided at a national convention by delegates who themselves come out of 56 separate primary elections, caucuses and state conventions in 56 states and territories. To win, Trump, DeSantis or any other candidate must quickly put together an organization in every state and territory and, importantly, qualify for the ballot in every state and territory.”
All eyes will now be on DeSantis, to see whether he can gain momentum – and whether he is the one to lead the Republican Party past Trump.
Ingrid Jacques is a columnist at USA TODAY. Contact her at email@example.com or on Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques