Speculation continues to heat up about the pool of possible entrants into the 2024 presidential race, and reporting from the Washington Post now suggests that Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has privately already declared his intention to seek the Oval Office.
The Post cited two sources said to have knowledge of DeSantis' comments on the matter and based on the nature of a number of events on the governor's calendar in the coming days, all signs currently point to an impending campaign announcement.
Conventional wisdom has hinted that if DeSantis were to launch a 2024 run, it would not happen until the Florida legislature's current session came to an end in May.
However, according to the Post, sources close to the situation report that in recent discussions, DeSantis has referenced his future plans in a manner that did not suggest outstanding contingencies that could still stand in the way of an announcement.
As Selena Zito recently noted in a profile of the governor for the Washington Examiner, Desantis himself has acknowledged that his constituents have largely ceased asking if he is planning to run, “as though that question has already been answered.”
“People basically say, 'Well, yeah, you got to do it,' DeSantis explained, and according to Zito, the governor has been “taken aback” by his popularity outside of the Sunshine State. “It's not just in Florida. It's also coming from Washington state, Alabama, all over the place, and I look at that. I'm like, 'Wow.' They're just responding to what I've done. It's not like I've ever campaigned in these places,” he said.
Further bolstering expectations that a DeSantis presidential campaign is indeed in the offing, according to the Post is the fact that a super PAC in support of such a run launched this week and is thought likely to become an official spending vehicle for 2024.
The PAC, known as Never Back Down, is headed by Ken Cuccinelli, a onetime official in the administration of former President Donald Trump, and longtime Republican Party operative Chris Jankowski, as the Post noted.
The involvement of Cuccinelli in the establishment of the PAC is viewed as noteworthy, given his prior ties to Trump, and he appears to be all in on boosting the candidacy of someone his former boss clearly views as a significant threat to his re-election hopes.
As evidence of his enthusiasm for the governor, in a video message announcing the PAC's launch, Cuccinelli urged those watching to make their wishes known to DeSantis and “make it real” by committing to a specific financial donation.
DeSantis' schedule in the weeks to come also offers strong signals about his plans for the next presidential election cycle, as it includes numerous events seemingly designed to broaden his national appeal – particularly in important early primary states.
The governor is currently on a tour designed to promote his memoir, The Courage to Be Free: Florida's Blueprint for America's Revival, a journey that has already included stops in Texas, Alabama, and California, as the Post notes.
DeSantis is also slated for stops in Iowa and Nevada on Friday and Saturday, respectively, suggestive of a strategic mission to make inroads in parts of the country where his profile may not be quite as high as Trump's.
Appearances such as those planned by DeSantis are typically viewed as indicative of a burgeoning campaign, the governor himself has provided no clear indication of a final decision. Notably, however, during his Tuesday State of the State address, he seemingly teased a broader objective or ambition by declaring, “You ain't seen nothing yet.”
The next few days in Iowa will provide a sort of foreshadowing for what many observers view will be the primary battle for the Republican nomination, namely, the fight between DeSantis and Trump, who retains a strong base of support in the state.
DeSantis is set to appear in DesMoines and in Davenport and will need to make a strong showing in order to win over voters loyal to Trump, who has already started the process of building his campaign base there and will travel to the state himself on Monday, as Reuters notes.
Regarding DeSantis' foray into Iowa, former state Republican Party political director Craig Robinson indicated his belief that voters there are eager to learn more about the governor, saying, “There's a lot of anticipation for him. I think Iowans will give him a fair listen.”
In anticipation of the dueling events, Trump adviser Jason Miller observed, according to NBC News, “This is where candidates start to get out of their comfort zone and voters get a sense of whether candidates are up for it,” and as such, all eyes will certainly be on the Hawkeye State – and other key nomination battlegrounds – in the days to come.