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It’s likely that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will announce a 2024 presidential campaign. Les jeux sont fait, the bets are placed, as the French say at Monte Carlo and elsewhere—not to mention the ability the rest of us have to place them on the ever-escalating number of political betting sites.
DeSantis is forming or is said to be forming an exploratory committee this month that allows substantial contributions to his campaign.
But in truth, it’s looking at this moment like he may have made a mistake and that biding his time, remaining Florida’s governor and waiting for 2028, might be a smarter strategy. In fact, this early attempt might prove self-destructive in the long run, tarnishing his image and giving him the whiff of the loser.
It’s not too late to say no.
A new CBS–YouGov poll released May 1 shows the Florida governor trailing former President Donald Trump by a yawning gap of 36 percentage points: 58 to 22. This continues a blowout trend that has been going on for some time.
This undoubtedly discourages financial backers, several of whom DeSantis already seems to be hemorrhaging.
Making things yet more difficult for the governor is that many now believe he’s the chosen candidate of Fox News, a network that seemingly has lost its soul (and much of its audience) due to its cancellation of Tucker Carlson.
Does this mean that Trump has the Republican nomination “in the bag”? As of now, I would have to say yes, even though 27 percent of GOP voters, according to this poll, have yet to be convinced, a percentage of those deeming him “too controversial.”
What about the supposed also-rans in this poll?
In order, they are former Vice President Mike Pence and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, tied at 5 percent, and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley at 4 percent. The rest—talk show host Larry Elder, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson—weren’t even able to register a full 1 percent.
The one who’s interesting here, obviously, is Ramaswamy. He has come literally from out of nowhere to tie for the lead in the second tier with Pence, who isn’t yet declared and—his appeal static—possibly is having second thoughts.
On May 2, Byron York, in his Washington Examiner column that’s known for a middle-of-the-road conventional Republican approach, looks askance on Haley’s contention that she should deserve the nomination because she constitutes a “new generation.”
York quotes from her February announcement speech in Charleston: “We’re ready to move past the stale ideas and faded names of the past, and we are more than ready for a new generation to lead us into the future. I come here today with a vision of that future.”
She called for “mandatory mental competency for politicians over 75 years old.” (Trump has already taken such a test and passed. Biden, as far as we know, hasn’t done so.)
The problem for the 51-year-old Haley is that her “vision of that future” isn’t especially unique, nor does it differ substantially in any serious way from her supposedly geriatric rival, the former president.
What York overlooks, at least in this column, is that Ramaswamy, at 37, isn’t only considerably younger than Haley, but also has a more original vision and takes things further by advocating for such things as the complete destruction of the FBI and our intelligence agencies as we know them, and their replacement from the ground up.
He also has far more Silicon Valley-type technical expertise as the founder and CEO of a biotech company than anybody running for president on either side. In a field dominated by the left, this makes him a tremendous, arguably crucial, asset to the right as artificial intelligence continues to take over our world.
People are beginning to realize that, and given his high level of articulateness, it makes it less surprising that Ramaswamy has risen so rapidly to the top of that second tier.
Where will he go from here? Defeating Trump is a big chew when he is still 17 points behind DeSantis, although it’s interesting he is substantially closer to the Florida governor in polling than the 36 points that DeSantis trails the 45th president.
The possibility exists, of course, that Trump’s legal problems with the special counsel looming may derail him in some way. It’s equally, perhaps more, likely that will ensure his victory by increasing the perception of extreme bias.
Crazy as it sounds, Trump might even be the first presidential candidate to compete for the office while incarcerated—and win.
With a Democratic administration that continues to undermine our republic domestically and globally at a hitherto unseen level, part of me would like all competing GOP candidates to drop out and unite behind Trump for the good of the country. But in this world of human ambition that isn’t to be, nor would it be a good thing, now more than ever, to suppress open debate. That trend is already too far along, with free speech as endangered a species as the mountain gorilla.
Nevertheless, in the event that Trump is denied the nomination—either by some unfortunate health issue that could overtake any of us or by some nefarious legal maneuver that somehow sticks—all bets are off and those aforementioned betting sites will scramble their odds almost instantaneously, as if Alcaraz, Djokovic, and Nadal all simultaneously dropped out of the French Open.
Who would be in the lead then? DeSantis? Ramaswamy? So far, no one else comes to mind.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.