As the 2024 election season heats up, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has made a bold statement about the implications of nominating Donald Trump as the Republican candidate.
DeSantis appealed directly to undecided Iowa Republicans, expressing his concern that a Trump nomination would shift the election’s focus from national issues under President Joe Biden to Trump’s legal troubles.
DeSantis says Trump’s nomination could overshadow broader national issues
DeSantis presented a critical choice for Republicans. “It raises the issue for Republicans: ‘What do we want the 2024 election to be about?’” he said. According to him, a Trump nomination would mean the election would center around legal issues, criminal trials, and the events of January 6, essentially becoming a referendum on Trump himself. This perspective suggests that Trump’s candidacy could overshadow broader national issues, thereby posing a risk for the Republican Party.
DeSantis, who has been positioning himself as a strong alternative for Republicans supportive of Trump but seeking a different candidate, has emphasized his ability to deliver where he believes Trump has fallen short. He has pointed to his leadership in Florida, where he signed a restrictive abortion law and resisted pressures to close schools and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. DeSantis also criticized Trump’s handling of illegal immigration and the incomplete construction of the southern border wall.
A strategic campaign for Republican support
The Florida governor’s strategy is to convince Iowans that their vote for him could change the dynamics of the race and demonstrate Trump’s vulnerability. DeSantis has been actively campaigning in Iowa, visiting all 99 counties and contrasting his efforts with the lesser time spent in the state by Trump and Nikki Haley, his main rival for second place.
DeSantis’ approach has been to target Republicans who appreciate Trump’s leadership but are open to another candidate. He has increasingly critiqued Trump, especially on unmet goals, while trying to avoid alienating Trump’s supporters. His recent comments indicate confidence in appealing to a broader Republican base, pointing to the 2022 midterm elections, where Republicans underperformed, as a warning against a Trump-focused 2024 campaign.
DeSantis emphasized that many voters are inclined to support Republicans but are hesitant about embracing Trump again. He cautioned against sticking with Biden due to issues unrelated to the underlying problems facing the nation, such as Trump’s legal challenges.
Aside from his political campaign, DeSantis also attended to his gubernatorial duties. He delivered Florida’s state of the state address and managed the response to tornadoes in the Fort Lauderdale area before returning to Des Moines for the town hall. During this event, he critiqued Nikki Haley’s remarks about New Hampshire voters being able to “correct” the decisions of Iowa caucusgoers.
Asserting his alignment with the values of Iowa Republicans, DeSantis positioned himself as the preferable conservative candidate. His message is clear: he is not just an alternative to Trump but a candidate who embodies the values and concerns of conservative voters.