After months of speculation, guesswork, and predictions, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has officially entered the race to become the Republican nominee for President in 2024. While DeSantis is still an underdog against former President Trump, he is far and away the only challenger, either declared or undeclared, that has a chance to get the nomination in the primary. For all intents and purposes, this is a two-man race between Trump and DeSantis, with all other contenders merely trailing and taking votes away from one or the other. Since they are competing for a job with us, the Republican Primary voter as the hiring manager, let’s compare resumes.
Ron DeSantis is in his second and final term as governor of the third most populous state in the country. Under his leadership, Florida has turned from the battleground that determined the 2000 Presidential election by just over 500 votes into the poster child for Republican governance. His 2018 win was by a mere 33,000 votes after over 9.1 million were cast, and the people sent him back to Tallahassee with a margin of victory of 1.5 million votes, or nearly 20% greater than his opponent.
DeSantis has implemented significant legislative initiatives, including the Parental Rights In Education Act and universal school choice. Prior to his governorship, he served as a conservative voice in the House of Representatives, opposing tax hikes for climate change efforts, supporting the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, advocating for gun rights, criticizing Obama’s immigration policies, and promoting cooperation between Florida sheriffs and federal immigration authorities.
President Trump was, of course, President of the United States. Regardless of how great a governor DeSantis is, there is no substitute for sitting in the Oval Office yourself. Trump has four years of experience that cannot be matched, not all of it good, of course. The first three years of his presidency, Trump was dealing with investigations, an aggressive and lying media, a cadre of employees in his own branch of government out to get him. In his final year, he was dealing with a global pandemic and had to tackle the greatest challenge a President has had since September 11.
Trump wrote the playbook on how to handle the media. Trump is combative by nature, so when the media consistently attack him, he is always ready to fight that fight. His transparency and willingness to answer every question posed to him, even if it causes a debate between himself and reporters like Jim Acosta, is all the more evident every time you see Joe Biden walk away from the podium without answering a single question. Trump’s weakness, however, is that the same fight that endears him to so many of his supporters alienates many others.
DeSantis is actually running Trump’s playbook regarding the media: never backing down. The media cynically lied about DeSantis for years, claiming that he was “DeathSantis” regarding COVID or inventing the “Don’t Say Gay” hoax. The difference in DeSantis’ approach is that he will destroy the narrative that the media pushes, not just the person who’s asking the question. So, while Trump will call Kaitlin Collins a “nasty person” on stage (to much applause), DeSantis will dismantle every talking point she has. This makes him a far greater media adversary in the long run.
The culture wars are a major aspect of American life at this point, whether people like it or not. Many neutral spaces, like corporations, schools, and libraries, have been pushed to the Left for decades, and the public is sick of it. Republican candidates must engage in these wars or get out of the way. Both Trump and DeSantis know this, but DeSantis is outmaneuvering Trump in this regard.
When Disney decided to walk into the political debate in Florida, DeSantis spearheaded the movement to take away the special privileges the state gave them 50 years ago. He did not shy away from the abortion debate, but instead achieved a ban on abortions after six weeks. He is working in the K-12 and university system to stop the indoctrination in leftwing ideology that has become endemic to education nationwide. He proclaimed that Florida is “where Woke goes to die” and he’s achieving that.
Trump, meanwhile, is attacking DeSantis from the Left. He’s siding with Disney, for example, and putting out memes and videos putting DeSantis in the company of George Soros, Joseph Stalin, and Hitler. This is a far cry from the person who led the charge on the Colin Kaepernick national anthem issue. Trump, who was at the forefront of this battle, is now trying to play catch-up.
Control of Executive Branch
The Chief Executive of the country needs to have control of a massive bureaucracy that includes millions of employees, many of whom are in high levels with vastly different personal or political agendas than the President. When tasked with controlling the executive branch, Trump failed far more than he succeeded.
Trump’s success came in the form of deregulation. He bragged that for every regulation added to the massive red tape in Washington, 16 regulations were taken away. That’s a good thing, as anyone who ever had to deal with any level of federal government knows, that there are far too many unnecessary rules.
That success pales in comparison with his failures, however. Trump’s term was littered with leaks and sabotage from within his own branch. The Ukraine phone call hoax was basically a bunch of lifetime bureaucrats who hated Trump colluding with a Democratic Congress who hated Trump to impeach a President without accusing him of a crime. What’s worse is that Trump then handed ultimate power to Anthony Fauci, who used that power to subjugate the American people under a healthcare tyranny for the entirety of 2020. That trend continued with Biden for another two years.
DeSantis, on the other hand, plugged leaks in his office, and made tough decisions for the betterment of Floridians during COVID, based on data and science, not scare tactics. DeSantis cleaned house in his branch, and explained how he would do the same in Washington. Trump just shouts “Deep State” and expects something to happen.
No explanation necessary
Working with Legislature
During his tenure, DeSantis has had the enviable position of a majority in both the Upper and Lower Houses of the Florida Legislature. This afforded him a comfortable relationship with the lawmakers of his state, in which they pushed a number of culture-shaking bills. They also managed to get the budget under control, granting the state a surplus and the second lowest debt in the nation. DeSantis has not had to fight with opposition forces either from the Republicans or Democrats.
Trump, however, had to do both. In the first two years of his term, Trump had a Republican majority in both the House and the Senate. Unfortunately, he could not accomplish much with them, save a major tax cut, because of the general dislike all Democrats and some Republicans had of him personally. This was exemplified in the infamous “thumbs down” moment, when John McCain voted against the repeal of Obamacare simply because he disliked Trump. So, while Trump is more experienced at working with opposition forces in the Legislature, that experience is filled with failure.
In this regard, Trump shines. Under Trump, the world actually had a brief era of peace before the onset of the COVID pandemic. Under President Obama, it seemed like terrorist attacks on the West were a monthly occurrence. Trump defeated ISIS and those attacks stopped. Global opposition forces like North Korea, China, Iran, Russia, and others were cowering in the corner, unwilling to make moves. Illegal immigration was waning to its lowest levels in years. The Abraham Accords were signed, bringing peace among nations that were once thought to be lifelong enemies. The personality of Trump was enough to make these achievements possible.
DeSantis may have the same goals in this regard, but he does not have that personality. North Korea stopped firing ballistic missiles because Kim Jong Un actually believed Trump when he said, “Will someone from [Kim’s] depleted and food-starved regime please inform him that I, too, have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger and more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” There is literally no other person who would speak that way to North Korea, but that is what works with brutal dictators.
This is the trickiest part, because there are two elections coming up: a Primary and a General. In the Primary, Trump is more electable. His base of support is far larger than DeSantis,’ and his floor of voters is far higher. Trump will get no fewer than 35 percent of the vote in any primary election. DeSantis cannot boast that.
The problem is that the same things that make Trump electable in a Primary make him far less likely to win in the General. As much as people on his side love him, his opponents hate him with the burning fire of a thousand suns. Yes, Republicans will come out to vote for Trump, but that won’t help if twice as many Democrats come to vote against him. If DeSantis were running against Biden, many 2020 Biden voters will either switch sides or stay home.
Then there are the down ballot implications. Biden is so unpopular that if he’s running against DeSantis, Republicans are more likely to retain the House and take the Senate. Trump, meanwhile, lost the House in 2018, the Senate in 2021 in Georgia, and several of his major endorsements lost in 2022.
Regardless of what anyone in the media or on any political team has said, the race is not over, not by a long shot. The first Primary debates are beginning in August and the first Primary elections are in January 2024. There is a lot of campaigning to be done between now and then.
The DeSantis team claims that they have raised a record $8.2 million in the first 24 hours after his announcement, adding to their impressive war chest. DeSantis also has a far stronger ground game than Trump does in these early Primary battles. However, there is no bigger personality in the field than Donald Trump. He can draw crowds that fill arenas, and he has a contingent of loyal supporters that will back him until the very end. While the smart money may be on Trump, there is no telling where this race may lead.
Moshe Hill is a political columnist and Senior Fellow at Amariah, an America First Zionist organization. Moshe has a weekly column in the Queens Jewish Link, and has been published in Daily Wire, CNS News, and other outlets. You can follow Moshe on his blog www.aHillwithaView.com, facebook.com/aHillwithaView, and twitter.com/HillWithView. A Hill With a View is now on YouTube! Subscribe today to get the latest content. Just search “A Hill with a View” to get started. Get A Hill with a View directly to your inbox! Text HILLVIEW to 22828 to sign up to the newsletter.