Donald Trump has serious competition. And his name is Ron DeSantis. He is slowly but surely building his own support base within the Republican Party, just like Trump did in the run-up to the 2016 Presidential election. In doing so, he has done a lot of things the same way Trump would have done, which has only improved his chances of being accepted by the conservative base of the Republican Party.
Who Is Ron DeSantis?
For the uninitiated, DeSantis is the popular and, many say, sharply polarising Republican Governor of Florida. His most recent action – of sending two plane-full of allegedly illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, a political stunt that would have made Trump proud – is just another example of the Governor taking inspiration from Trump’s playbook and appealing directly to the Republic voters.
Not many have forgotten the number of times Trump when he was President and also when he was simply candidate-for-President, promised to build a wall between Mexico and the US to stop migrants from crossing into the US.
What was DeSantis trying to achieve by sending the migrants to Martha’s Vineyard?
In sending the two planes to Martha’s Vineyard, DeSantis was only strengthening his anti-migration credentials amid suggestions that he was positioning himself for a presidential bid in 2024, a battle where he would first have to likely defeat Trump before taking on the Democratic nominee.
Martha’s Vineyard is considered to be populated with the most liberal people in the USA, those who have always supported the demand to allow legal Mexicans into the USA.
Why Could Desantis Be More Acceptable Than Trump?
While much of what DeSantis does is copybook Trump, the one thing that makes him stand apart from Trump is that he doesn’t make the old guard of the Republican Party feel insecure, something that Trump does routinely. Many feel that Trump, certain that he doesn’t need the support of the establishment within the Republican Party to get support from the core vote bank of the grand old party (GOP), has rubbed too many among the old guard the wrong way.
DeSantis has so far avoided doing this. And that is why, if it comes to picking between him and Trump, the old established guard of the GOP may side with DeSantis instead of Trump. But, can DeSantis actually win the Presidential election in 2024? Nobody knows the answer to this question. After all, in 2016, nobody expected Trump to defeat Hillary Clinton. And this includes Trump himself.
Similarly, in 2020, very few expected Trump to lose as he did to Joe Biden, who was then considered too over-the-hill to mount a serious challenge to Trump. In 2024, Trump, it seems almost certain now, will try to be the Republican candidate once again. He continues to be hugely popular among the conservative supporters of the Republican Party.
But, if, and it is a big if, DeSantis decides to throw his hat in the ring, the going may get tough for Trump. At just 44 years of age, DeSantis also holds a special appeal to the young conservative voters. DeSantis has shown the uncanny knack of successfully appealing to the same segment of Republican voters as Trump. And, he comes across as more unhinged than the former President. But, just like Trump, DeSantis revels in stoking the fear of the liberals to get votes.
But before he becomes a serious contender in 2024, he will have to re-win his Governorship. Many view his move to send migrants to Martha Vineyard as part of his strategy to polarise his state’s voters, especially since immigration continues to be a hot-button issue for many Republicans and even non-Republican voters.
Can DeSantis Be Expected To Challenge Trump Directly For The Republican Nomination For 2024?
The only thing certain about politics is its uncertainty. While in the 2020 Presidential elections, DeSantis was openly supporting Trump, Trump’s loss may have given him hope and the courage to feel that he himself, and not Trump, could be the better candidate in 2024. DeSantis has proven that he has the ability to raise the necessary funds too – recently he set a new record for his November run to retain his post. Since 2019, he has received donations in excess of 165 million US dollars, huge even by US standards.
Since 2020, DeSantis has tried to expand his reach by canvassing for Republican candidates in other states, often invoking MAGA or Make America Great Again, the slogan made popular by Trump, to seek votes, repeatedly raising polarizing issues such as immigration. While he has not made his intentions clear, it is clear that Democrats feel he, and not Trump, will be the Republican nominee in 2024.