How much longer can Ron DeSantis wait to declare a White House bid?

Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis waves to the crowd as he attends an event Friday, March 10, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP Photo/Ron Johnson) Ron Johnson/AP

How much longer can Ron DeSantis wait to declare a White House bid?

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With Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) making more campaign-like statements every day, friends and enemies alike are wondering how much longer he can wait to declare a run for the White House.

Hot on the heels of riling up former President Donald Trump earlier this week, DeSantis told Piers Morgan he thinks he can beat President Joe Biden in 2024.


“I think so,” DeSantis answered when asked if he thinks he can beat Biden, according to an account Morgan wrote for the New York Post. “If I were to run, I’m running against Biden … the guy I’m gonna focus on is Biden because I think he’s failed the country. I think the country wants a change. I think they want a fresh start and a new direction, and so we’ll be very vocal about that.”

It was perhaps the most obvious indication yet that DeSantis is going to run for president.

But officially, he isn’t, which is another thing that upsets Trump. The former president’s allies have filed an ethics complaint alleging that DeSantis is illegally fundraising through outside super PACs and his Florida political committee despite being term-limited as governor.

There is also a Florida law on the books known as “resign to run,” which would force DeSantis to cede the governor’s office should he mount a presidential bid. However, the state legislature may change it before the end of the legislative session, which is also DeSantis’s rumored announcement date. That would allow DeSantis to run as the incumbent governor with a term running through the end of 2028.

“Once the session is over, he’s going to give a great, big speech on his, quote, ‘accomplishments,'” Miami-based Democratic strategist Sasha Tirador said. “The banning of books, the banning of drag queens, the banning of whatever comes to mind on that day of the way. He might just go ahead and announce within that speech. But I think he’ll do it right after the legislative session. He can’t afford to wait beyond that.”

While Tirador isn’t upset that the legislature may change the “resign to run” law, she predicts someone else will be.

“That’s something the Trump camp will definitely use against him if they do that,” she said. “Trump will say, ‘he’s not even sure he can win!'”

As a Democrat, Tirador is hoping Trump wins the GOP primary, calling him a has-been who is easier for Biden to beat.

With DeSantis officially on the sidelines, recent polls have pointed in that direction. A Morning Consult poll released Tuesday showed Trump with a two-to-one lead over his rival. Some have argued the polling slip means DeSantis can’t wait even until the summer to get in the race, given that Trump declared more than four months ago.

Craig Shirley isn’t one of them. A conservative historian and Ronald Reagan biographer, Shirley said DeSantis has the best of both worlds right now.

“You can campaign without actually campaigning,” he said. “DeSantis has the advantage of focusing on the good things he’s done as governor and going after the bad things Biden has done. He can stay above it all without actually getting his hand soiled by running for president.”

Shirley points to Reagan as a model to follow. The Gipper waited until November of 1979 to declare for the 1980 cycle. But Reagan spent the year making speeches, doing radio commentary, testifying before Congress, and generally acting like a candidate without being one, Shirley added.

Interest in DeSantis is certainly high. No less than four super PACs have emerged urging him to run for president, many started by former Trump supporters. Some are even running TV commercials in an effort to “draft” DeSantis for the GOP nomination, though he has kept his distance from them.


Campaign-like or not, the Florida governor should be able to opine as much as he wants in interviews and press conferences, argues Republican strategist John Feehery.

“The law is the law,” he said. “Until he officially announces, he should be able to be a pundit as much as the next guy.”

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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