DeSantis eyes 2024 election bid in own manner, on his own timetable
DeSantis frequently avoids gatherings of fellow Republican governors and party leaders, who are quick to grumble in private about his go-it-alone style.
Typically, Republican presidential candidates compete for prime speech slots at the Conservative Political Action Conference. While conservative activists gather in suburban Washington this week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will be courting fundraisers more than a thousand miles away in Texas and California.
The apparent CPAC snub is nothing new for DeSantis, who has emerged as a major contender for the GOP candidacy in the early stages of the 2024 presidential election while ignoring numerous modern political conferences.
DeSantis is considered a popular voice on cable television in conservative cultural debates, but he frequently avoids gatherings of fellow Republican governors and party leaders, who are quick to grumble in private about his go-it-alone style.
He is reportedly the only top-tier presidential candidate who has yet to campaign in Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina -- the states hosting the Republican Party's first presidential primary contests. And he is frequently at conflict with the press, refusing to even alert local media of a rare three-state tour with law enforcement last week.
Nevertheless, as DeSantis edges closer to a presidential run, it is becoming evident that the 44-year-old Republican governor will manage his presidential ambitions in his own manner, on his own timetable, with or without allies in national GOP leadership or contacts with the press.
“DeSantis has, in his style and the actions he’s taken as governor, shown a willingness to fight the traditional powers that be, the establishment,” said David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth, an influential conservative group based in Washington, as quoted by AP.
McIntosh further described DeSantis’ style as “refreshing” and hinted that the GOP is ready to move on from former President Donald Trump.
'A trump alternative'
For the time being, DeSantis is the most serious danger to Trump's bid to capture the Republican nominee for the third time. The Club for Growth will welcome DeSantis, along with a half-dozen other presidential candidates, in a private retreat in Florida next weekend with major funders. Trump has not been invited.
Meanwhile, DeSantis has discreetly begun to broaden his political coalition on his terms, just as his book, "The Courage to Be Free," is set to be released this Tuesday.
DeSantis will utilize the release of his book in the coming days and weeks to introduce himself to voters outside of Florida, where he established his political supremacy a year ago by winning reelection by more than 19 percentage points.
In the coming weeks, he is anticipated to make his first visits in crucial primary states, such as Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as general election battlegrounds, such as Georgia and Pennsylvania. He made unannounced stops in New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago last week to meet with police enforcement officials, albeit the gatherings were private and he did not tell local media.
Meanwhile, DeSantis' campaign feels no urgency to enter the 2024 election, which already has three GOP candidates. Trump made the announcement three months ago.
He's also shown no desire in responding to Trump's increasingly personal accusations, including recent social media posts implying that DeSantis inappropriately treated young females when he briefly taught high school in his early twenties.
It is worth noting that Trump refers to the Florida governor as "Ron DeSanctimonious” and “Meatball Ron".
Sam Nunberg, a former Trump assistant turned critic, argued that Trump's increased focus on DeSantis may unintentionally help the Florida governor by identifying him as the strongest Republican Trump alternative.
Meanwhile, DeSantis is focused on furthering his conservative agenda during the upcoming state legislature session in Florida, which runs from March to May.
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