New York: Ron DeSantis’ entry into the 2024 White House race against former President Donald Trump sets up a clash of the Republican Party’s two leading figures as the Florida governor attempts to topple a man who has dominated the GOP for the last seven years.
Trump, who has established himself as the clear front-runner for the Republican nomination, has spent the months since he launched his own campaign working to hobble the once-ascendant DeSantis, whom he and his team have long viewed as his most serious challenger. DeSantis so far has tried to remain above the fray, ignoring Trump’s escalating attacks on everything from his record to his personality.
“The campaign is about to get a lot more intense. He can’t just lay low in Tallahassee signing bills,” said GOP strategist Alex Conant of DeSantis’ strategy. “Now he has to hit the campaign trail, take media questions and punch back at his opponents.”
But DeSantis, during a series of events Wednesday night launching his campaign, took only veiled swipes at his chief rival without mentioning him by name. It is a strategy reminiscent of 2016, when Trump’s army of Republican rivals failed to go after the candidate directly for fear of alienating his supporters and assumed — wrongly — that he would flame out on his own.
In an interview later with Fox News, he said he believed all candidates should participate in the planned GOP primary debates, which Trump has threatened to boycott. “Nobody’s entitled to anything in this world,” he said.