“My message from Florida is this: When Joe Biden violates the Constitution, when Joe Biden attacks the jobs of Floridians and Americans, when Joe Biden targets the livelihoods of Florida families and American families, I stand up against him, ”DeSantis said to cheers, criticizing the presidential decree mandating mid-to-large company Covid vaccines for workers.
DeSantis’ trip to Nebraska is part of his continued split-screen effort as he prepares for re-election at home while laying the groundwork for a White House candidacy if former President Donald Trump does not participate in the 2024 contest. His emerging national presence has made him a prime target for Democrats in 2022 as well as for Biden – but so far he’s been enjoying his moment.
His visit to the Midwest is part of at least a dozen out-of-state trips he has taken since May. He’s been everywhere, from Southern California to Kentucky to the outskirts of Milwaukee and New Jersey. Since most are campaign visits, they are not included in his public program, and the governor rarely informs the public of his out-of-state trips. He also visited the Texas-Mexico border in July with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, where they tore up the immigration policies of President Joe Biden.
DeSantis didn’t have the Sunday crowd to himself, however, and was joined by two other possible 2024 presidential candidates: former Vice President Mike Pence and Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Early Republican primary polls show the three are ahead of the potential bunch of candidates if Trump decides not to play a rematch against Biden.
Another future presidential candidate may also have spoken on Sunday: Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, who hosted the event. His second and final term ends next year and Ricketts has not ruled out a future presidential bid.
Biden and DeSantis have both taken on managing Covid, to the delight of their respective political bases, and each has seen their job approval scores drop as coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths were increasing this summer due to the spread of the Delta variant.
Florida has led the way. Its death rate from Covid since the start of the pandemic now ranks 12th in the country. It was 27th nationally in February, before the Delta variant spread and after previous predictions of doom did not materialize.
DeSantis’ statewide ban on mask warrants – along with his feuds with Biden and the Democrats, and his constant criticism of Florida’s national media coverage – have made him a GOP idol across the board. nationwide and placed him at the top of the White House’s potential Republican hopefuls.
The most recent public poll, released by Republican-leaning Echelon Insights last month, showed DeSantis to be slightly ahead of second-placed Pence by 25-23 percent in a presidential primary without Trump. This represents a loss of 7 points for DeSantis in one month. Cruz was third, with 9 percent of the hypothetical votes.
A more recent Morning Consult Political Intelligence poll showed that DeSantis’ net approval rating in Florida fell 14 points between early July and late August. The poll at the start of the summer showed that 54% approved of DeSantis’ work while 40% disapproved. Now his approval ratings are split evenly, with 48% approval and 48% disapproval of his job performance.
A college football fan, the governor of Florida knew his audience and complained to Nebraska about the decline in their Cornhuskers’ fortunes, which mirrors that of Florida’s top schools.
But after this little levity, DeSantis the pugilist came out. Kicking off his speech with colloquialisms like “give me a break” and saying “yes” instead of “you,” DeSantis rhetorically rocked over and over to the far left and Biden. DeSantis has mentioned Trump in favorable terms twice, but never referred to 2024.
DeSantis accused Biden of being “obsessed” with Florida and “crazy” that parents in Florida have the right to prevent their children from wearing masks in schools. [Biden and his administration say they’re just trying to stop the spread of Covid and keep kids safe and on Friday opened an investigation into Florida’s mask policies.] Although DeSantis underestimated the extent of hospitalizations and deaths from the Delta surge, he insisted cases would decline almost as quickly as they were increasing, and preliminary figures show the summer surge appears to be peaking in the state .
DeSantis intentionally avoided defining foothold in early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, and a planned trip to Nevada in July was canceled due to a storm in Florida. Nonetheless, DeSantis rules out discussion about 2024 given the volatile nature of Trump’s future plans.
“I’m just doing my job and we’re working hard… I hear all of this stuff and honestly it’s nonsense,” DeSantis said last week of the presidential gossip, calling it “purely fabricated.”
An adviser close to DeSantis also insisted that talking about a presidential candidacy was off-base, saying out-of-state visits were necessary to build up a substantial campaign account ahead of his re-election effort.
David Kochel, a leading Iowa-based Republican presidential campaign strategist, said, “It’s really smart” for DeSantis to stay out of the prime states for now because he doesn’t. did not need.
“DeSantis has built its brand in a truly unique way,” said Kochel.
On the national scene
DeSantis’ growing national fundraising footprint, out-of-state travel and hands-off approach to the pandemic have raised its profile across the country.
“DeSantis is very energetic, he’s everywhere,” said Christian Ziegler, Sarasota County Commissioner and Vice President of the Florida Republican Party. “Every time I turn on the television, he’s there. “
DeSantis has also assumed an evolving role as a vocal critic of the Biden administration. He organized an effort to send more than 50 state law enforcement officers to help secure the Texas-Mexico border, something he touted in July with Abbott in Texas.
But DeSantis is also doing something else: He’s building an organization to protect his 2024 outlook by ensuring he easily navigates to re-election next year. A defeat in the now red Florida would send his presidential aspirations to oblivion. So he’s set to raise up to $ 150 million in case a self-financier or someone with huge national backing decides his current challenges as Democratic governor are unsustainable.
The governor took a hiatus from fundraising in the early months of the pandemic in 2020. Since becoming governor, DeSantis has raised $ 55 million for his political committee, most since last October. This gigantic transport includes a torrent this summer of small donors from nearly every state across the country, showing its appeal outside of Florida. Figures show that over the past two and a half years, his committee has raised around $ 23 million from donors listing state addresses.
DeSantis has built its brand methodically. First elected to Congress in 2012, he started out as a low-key congressman who has grown to become a staunch supporter of Trump through constant appearances on Fox News. This earned him a key endorsement from Trump as he ran against Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the GOP primary for governor.
He flirted with being moderate during his first year in office – after a very narrow victory in 2018 – but he returned to his conservative roots during the Covid-19 pandemic that followed. DeSantis has continuously removed blockages and avoided mask warrants while pushing a 2021 legislative agenda tailored for a 2024 GOP primary, including new laws targeting tech companies, protesters and transgender athletes.
Attacking the left
DeSantis’ speech on Sunday seemed more typical for a Republican primary candidate than a general election speech for a governor of a battlefield state in addressing voter fraud, illegal immigration, critical theory of race, police funding, trans athletes, Big Tech, and the “revival” he repeatedly mentioned.
“Just as Florida represents law and order, we are also a brick wall for enlightenment and its associated ideologies,” DeSantis said.
What DeSantis didn’t mention: Some of its main initiatives, such as a measure cracking down on violent protests, have gotten bogged down in courts with judges stepping in and preventing their implementation.
Matt Towery, a longtime political analyst and GOP pollster who now lives in Florida, said DeSantis appears to be “at a crossroads.”
“Obviously he’s out there and he’s taking on the president, and the president takes him on, which raises his profile,” said Towery, a former aide to Newt Gingrich. But he says DeSantis “needs to be careful” to make sure he stays engaged in Florida.
“You have to take care of the home business first,” Towery said.
For DeSantis, this means a constant state of fighting the left and calling on conservatives to fight what he has suggested is a broad left-wing conspiracy involving mainstream media, social media companies, d other big companies and elite universities.
“When you stand up for the right things, they attack you. The left will come after you. The regime-controlled media will get you dirty, ”DeSantis told the Nebraska public on Sunday. “So when you get up, it’s not free in our country right now. You must have spine. You have to show courage. You must be prepared to stand on a wall. You have to be prepared to go the line. And that’s what we do in the state of Florida. We don’t let the bastards run over us in the state of Florida. “