Ron DeSantis: Serious competition for Trump

To analyse

Status: 01/28/2022 08:20 a.m

Ironically, a challenger is building up in the adopted country of ex-President Trump: Governor DeSantis is probably aiming for the presidential candidacy in 2024 himself. His chances are not bad.

Katrin Brand, ARD-Studio Washington

Elsewhere, people look out the window in the morning to see if their car is still there or if it has been broken into. In Florida, in the mornings you decide whether to go to Disney World or the beach – it was a very rosy picture of their state that several dozen sheriffs painted of their state this week.

Katrin Brand
ARD-Studio Washington

But under Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida has become a state of “law and order” and freedom, police chiefs said. And that’s why 90 percent of them support DeSantis in his re-election in the fall.

Freedom bought at a price

Above all, freedom is a big issue for the 43-year-old, who was elected governor of Florida in 2017 – with the support of then-US President Donald Trump. Since the beginning of the corona pandemic, DeSantis has presented Florida as the US state that makes its own corona rules – and that all other states are jealous of.

“We’ve long been known as the ‘Sunshine State,'” DeSantis said about a year ago, but with unprecedented lockdowns in other states, he thinks “the Florida sun is now the ray of hope for all those yearning for freedom “.

Freedom, as he and the Florida Republicans mean it, means: hardly any lockdown, no mask requirement, no vaccination requirement. While the pubs remained closed elsewhere, people celebrated on Key West’s party mile or turned night into day on the beaches off Miami. DeSantis believes that Florida got through the pandemic well.

The price for this: With 300 Covid deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, Florida is in the upper third of the US states.

DeSantis criticizes Trump’s corona policy

DeSantis’ raptures about freedom are aimed squarely at all the malcontents, exhausted by the pandemic, who feel bullied by US President Joe Biden in Washington. Even if his re-election as governor is now the most important goal: DeSantis has the presidency in mind, the US media are for once unanimous.

And he’s clearly ready to take on the number one Republican no. 1: Donald Trump. Nothing is official yet. Neither Trump nor DeSantis have declared their interest in running for 2024. But there is whispering behind the scenes, and the two are publicly engaged in a long-distance duel – on the field of the pandemic, of all places.

He never thought in February and early March 2020 that there could be a nationwide lockdown, DeSantis said on a recent podcast. With today’s knowledge, he would have been much louder back then – towards Trump, there is no other way to interpret it.

Vaccination status as a target?

DeSantis made himself a target for Trump when he begged Fox about his booster shot. He has the normal vaccination and the rest is a private matter. Trump finds “his” vaccines very successful and now says openly that he had boosters. Politicians who hide their vaccination status for tactical reasons are “cowardly”.

DeSantis currently has a major advantage over Trump: he has an office and a task. If he wants to ban schools or universities from making people feel uncomfortable in their classes because they are about racism or discrimination, then he hits the headlines. If he wants to set up a police unit to prevent voter fraud, liberal America will scream.

And conservative America realizes that someone is doing Trump’s politics without being Trump.

DeSantis does better in polls

Trump has every reason to fear the 32-year-old Yale graduate and ex-military, a Marquette Law School poll shows. At least according to this survey, both would lose to Biden at the moment, but DeSantis would do slightly better.

More importantly, 70 percent of those surveyed said Trump should not run again. The ex-president has many loyal fans among his voters, but many may wish for a new face at the top.

Even if Trump is doing better than Marquette in other polls, at least for the moment, if DeSantis stays calm and doesn’t make any mistakes, his chances are not bad at all.

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