Election 2024

Ron DeSantis officially files to run for president in 2024

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Ron DeSantisPhoto: YouTube screenshot

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission, marking the official start of his 2024 presidential campaign. His filing signals a coming escalation in the war between him and former President Donald Trump (R), his presumed frontrunning opponent for the nomination.

DeSantis formally announced his candidacy in an interview on Twitter Spaces with billionaire transphobe Elon Musk on Wednesday at 6 p.m. EST. Twitter Spaces repeatedly experienced technical difficulties at the outset, delaying the talk by more than 15 minutes.

During the discussion, Musk asked DeSantis about recent travel advisories issued by the NAACP, Human Rights Campaign, and Equality Florida which called the state unsafe for Black and LGBTQ+ people.

DeSantis called the advisories “a political stunt,” saying, “What they’re doing is colluding with legacy media to try to manufacture a narrative. Now the good news is fewer and fewer Americans are gullible enough to believe this drivel and platforms like Twitter where people can debunk these lies in real-time, and I would just say as an American citizen, if you are uncritically accepting narratives spun by legacy media and left-wing groups, you’re failing at your job of being a conscientious citizen.”

Musk also asked DeSantis about his ongoing feud with Disney since the company publicly criticized Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Disney has since sued DeSantis for retaliating against the company’s right to free speech.

DeSantis told Musk, “Disney obviously supported injecting gender ideology in elementary school. They oppose our parents’ rights legislation, and the fact is when they oppose that that was a big deal because for 50 years, anytime Disney wanted something in world politics, they pretty much got it, but not this time.”

He added, “The corporate culture had really been outed as trying to inject matters of sex into the programming for the youth. And I think a lot of parents, including me, look at that and say that’s not appropriate…. We’re going to defend our actions because we think we have the right to do what we did.”

When asked about his “Don’t Say Gay” law, DeSantis dishonestly claimed that it mostly banned sexual material from classrooms, adding, “I think it’s very inappropriate to have sexually explicit material in a fifth-grade library 100%.” In actuality, the law bans any LGBTQ+ content from K-12 classrooms, not just sexually explicit material.

Included in the chat was anti-LGBTQ+ activist Chris Rufo, a man who has falsely claimed that a Chicago children’s hospital has partnered with public schools to promote “radical gender theory,” kink, and sex toys to children. DeSantis appointed Rufo to the board of trustees of the New College of Florida – a school with a reputation for being progressive and queer-friendly — as part of an effort to make the school more conservative.

Rufo praised DeSantis for eliminating “critical race theory” from all of Florida’s public institutions, stopping “gender ideology dead in his tracks in K through 12,” and eliminating the DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) bureaucracy in all of Florida’s public universities.

“While many conservative politicians going back decades have made headlines and got on television, playing culture war, they never actually get anything done,” Rufo said. “I think what you’ve done is established a blueprint for fighting back against the left’s long march with the institutions and making sure that those institutions reflect the values of Florida voters, not left-wing activists and a partisan press.”

DeSantis said that, as president, he would use the U.S. Department of Education to support educational accreditation groups that don’t require DEI aspects in academic programs.

“I think that there are some tools with the federal government where you can push back and try to get these [educational] institutions moored in a more foundational direction about ‘Hey, we’re pursuing truth here, and we’re not here to try to impose one niche ideology on the entire student body,'” DeSantis said.

CNN wrote that by appearing on Twitter, DeSantis is bypassing mainstream media and embracing Musk, a man who has perpetuated the right-wing belief that left-leaning social media companies have traditionally censored conservative voices. Both DeSantis and Musk have publicly railed against the so-called “woke mind virus” that allegedly drives progressive and anti-racist thought. Last June, Musk tweeted that he felt inclined to support DeSantis in 2024. Trump has so far refused to use Twitter after launching his own social media platform, TRUTH Social.

DeSantis’ feud with Trump is about to get uglier

DeSantis is largely expected to advocate nationwide for the same racist and anti-LGBTQ+ policies that he has instituted in Florida. He recently signed several anti-LGBTQ+ bills into law, including a ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth, restrictions on such care for adults, a ban on all-ages drag shows, a ban on trans people using facilities matching their gender identities, an expansion of the state’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law, and a bill legalizing anti-LGBTQ+ medical discrimination.

He has also signed several laws banning any educational “diversity, equity, and inclusivity” (DEI) programs that highlight the oppression of people of color and other marginalized groups. This includes the so-called “Stop WOKE Act” — the law was blocked by a court for violating constitutionally protected rights to free speech.

DeSantis is expected to be a major contender for the presidency, but his cultural policies may turn off moderate voters. Regardless, he will first have to beat Trump in a primary to win the Republican nomination. The race is likely to turn ugly as he and Trump have spent the last few months publicly trading barbs at one another.

Trump has expressed regret over endorsing DeSantis during his successful 2018 campaign to become Florida’s governor. DeSantis beat bisexual Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum in the race, in part, thanks to Trump’s support.

“[DeSantis] was dead as a dog, he was a dead politician. He would have been working perhaps for a law firm or doing something else,” Trump said in early March. “I said ‘You are so dead right now you are not going, no endorsement is going to save you. George Washington won’t save you.’ He said, ‘I’m telling you, if you endorse me, I have a chance’… If it weren’t for me, Ron DeSanctimonious would right now be working probably at a law firm, or maybe a Pizza Hut, I don’t know.”

In a March interview, DeSantis took some thinly veiled swipes at Trump, stating, “The way we run the government I think is no daily drama; focus on the big picture and put points on the board…. Governing is not about entertaining. Governing is not about building a brand or talking on social media and virtue signaling. It’s ultimately about winning and producing results.”

His “daily drama” remark likely referred to Trump’s chaotic presidency, which was often destabilized by Trump’s Twitter announcements and targeting of critics. DeSantis’ “winning” comment was likely an allusion to Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election and to the loss of many key Trump-endorsed candidates in the 2022 midterm elections.

In a recent video, Trump said, “The problem with Ron DeSanctimonious is that he needs a personality transplant, and those are not yet available. Almost all congressmen and women that served with him and knew him well supported me, some of them surprisingly so because of their relationship with Ron.”

Trump may be right. In September 2022, Vanity Fair published a profile of DeSantis in which numerous Republican sources described DeSantis as combative, cold, and “a mix of extreme arrogance and painful awkwardness.”

DeSantis’ lack of personal warmth could harm him in a general presidential election if mainstream media cameras catch him being cold to his supporters, the profile said. On this point, a Republican quoted in the profile asked, “Can a guy who doesn’t have any time for the rituals and practices of politics — the backslapping, handshaking, how are the kids? — succeed?”

A former congressional staffer said of DeSantis, “I describe him as having the personality of a piece of paper.”

Politico wrote that DeSantis’ former staffers had formed a “support group” to share their experiences working for him. One former adviser said, “He’s a terrible bully.”

DeSantis has also lost favor with many Republicans due to his relentless vendetta against Disney. Members of the Florida GOP recently spoke out about their frustrations with his revenge-fueled agenda. Multiple prominent donors have also been reconsidering their support.

As Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell recently wrote, “Donald Trump is pounding on him like a bass drum. Donors are running away. And most mainstream Americans are either confused by or put off by his constant culture-warring.”

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