Better late than never
Ron DeSantis officially launches 2024 presidential campaign
After months of his candidacy being treated like a foregone conclusion within both Republican circles and the public at large, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) made it official on Wednesday, announcing the launch of his campaign to become the GOP's 2024 presidential nominee to take on incumbent President Biden.
"American decline is not inevitable, it is a choice. And we should choose a new direction — a path that will lead to American revitalization," DeSantis said during an exclusive sit-down interview with Twitter owner Elon Musk streamed live on the platform. The glitchy stream crashed repeatedly, making it "virtually impossible" for anyone to hear the announcement in real-time, as The Associated Press wrote.
DeSantis' entry into an increasingly crowded Republican field comes as Donald Trump continues to dominate across multiple polls. Nevertheless, the former president has gone out of his way to boost some declared candidates at DeSantis' explicit expense — a sign that even with his commanding lead, Trump sees the Florida governor as his chief rival for the GOP nomination. Hours before DeSantis finally made his candidacy official, the former president jabbed that "he desperately needs a personality transplant and, to the best of my knowledge, they are not medically available yet."
DeSantis' studiously crafted aura of conservative electability (in contrast to Trump's electoral weaknesses) has been battered in the months leading up to Wednesday's seemingly inevitable announcement, with the candidate struggling to overcome allegations of awkward interpersonal skills and facing blowback from his far-right political agenda in Florida. Despite trailing Trump in the polls, however, DeSantis has maintained a comfortable lead over the remainder of the GOP candidates, including former U.N Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy.
Now that DeSantis has officially committed to running for the nomination, the question becomes whether he can capitalize on his position ahead of the bulk of the GOP pack, while still weathering a continued assault from Trump.