Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has begun his political campaign for the 2024 Presidency in full swing, reaching the state of Iowa to start rallying. While he officially launched his campaign last week on Twitter, the event was marred by various technological glitches, and it seems he has since turned to a more traditional method of campaigning.
Previously serving in the Navy and as an attorney, Mr. DeSantis then served in the US House of Representatives before being elected as Governor of Florida twice, including a historic win in 2022. Making a name for his opposition to Covid restrictions, his handling of natural disasters such as Hurricane Ian, and bills restricting race and sex education in schools, he has since emerged as the second most popular Republican candidate after Donald Trump.
Ron DeSantis’s Ideological Positions
Under the campaign slogan ‘Never Back Down’, Mr. DeSantis has fired shots at his chief opponent, coming out as hard on crime, immigration, ‘wokeism’ and social programs while taking a slightly more moderate stance on the environment.
While DeSantis holds many positions in common with the Republican Party, there are some issues which he emphasises more than others and some points where he differs from the majority party opinion. First entering the national consciousness for his virulent opposition to COVID-19 lockdowns, mask and vaccine mandates, he has since become influential in various other political positions.
For example, DeSantis has opposed the recent debt ceiling deal struck between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to raise the US debt ceiling in exchange for certain political concessions. However, the domain in which DeSantis has made the biggest splashes are ideological. Emerging as a firm opponent of LGBT rights and ‘wokeism’, he has made headlines for initiatives such as the banning of sex education in schools, his feud against Disney over the said law, and the banning of critical race theory from public schools.
Combined with his support for gun rights and lower taxation, this has placed him as a leading crusader against the Democratic ideological agenda in conservative circles, and in a recent interview on Fox News, the candidate vowed to ‘destroy leftism’ in the country if elected president.
A Showdown Against Donald Trump?
Even though former President Donald Trump is in a veritable maelstrom of political controversies and legal troubles, he still maintains a large lead over DeSantis, who is his closest political rival. Trump is facing criminal charges in a variety of cases, including bribery and payment of hush money, sexual assault and defamation, retention of classified governmental records, and most notably, incitement of the Capitol Hill riots. Added to this are further controversies over his social media presence and mental fitness.
Nonetheless, he has managed to maintain a massive 30-point lead over Mr. DeSantis, and polling has shown that this lead has only increased over time. Surveys show that a historically high number of voters believe his allegations of election fraud and a grand conspiracy against him, and he has almost completely dominated the Republican Party.
Even though Mr. DeSantis has amassed a large war chest of campaign funds, has wide recognition nationwide for his recent political moves, and is the closest political challenger to Donald Trump, it remains to be seen whether he can puncture Trump’s Teflon-coated image among Republicans.