Can Ron DeSantis Compete With Trump? Here’s Everything You Need To Know!

Can anyone beat Donald Trump for the party’s nomination if he decides to run for president again in 2024? This is the most important question in Republican politics, and more and more people are talking about one man: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. In the most recent issue of The New Yorker, journalist Dexter Filkins looks at how DeSantis is becoming more important in Republican politics. He joins us now. We’re glad you’re here.


DAVIS: So, in your story, you say that DeSantis is often compared to Trump if Trump had a brain. What’s the meaning of that?

FILKINS: He is extremely intelligent. And I think that President Trump may also be smart, but DeSantis has a lot to say. He moves around very quickly. He says things in full sentences. So, he’s great whether he’s in front of a crowd of a thousand people or on TV. I mean, in that way, he’s a perfect candidate in a way that President Trump wasn’t, you know, in a typical way. But, you know, DeSantis went to Harvard. He went to Harvard. He attended Yale. He is an attorney. He moves very quickly.

DAVIS: In his 2018 campaign for governor, DeSantis worked hard to get Trump’s support. Trump likes to say that he is the reason DeSantis won that race. How are they getting along now, especially since I’m sure Trump is well aware of all the talk about DeSantis?

FILKINS: It seems pretty hard to me. That’s how I was told about it. And I think it’s pretty clear why that is. Ron DeSantis hasn’t publicly said that he won’t run for office if President Trump does. And he won’t kiss the ring, as someone I quoted in the story told me. And, you know, I don’t think President Trump has said what he’s going to do yet. And I think that’s made him upset that Governor DeSantis hasn’t treated him with the respect he deserves, at least from what I’ve been told.

Can Ron DeSantis Compete With Trump? Here's Everything You Need To Know!

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DAVIS: Can you talk about some of the things that DeSantis has done to get to where he is in politics? I’m especially thinking about how he led during the pandemic. He didn’t listen to what experts in public health said, but that seemed to make him a hero to the right.

FILKINS: He did. I mean, his COVID answer is really what made him a governor and gave him a national reputation. And it was. During the pandemic, he was an outlier. He pretty much got rid of all the rules right away when he said, “We’re not going to make people wear masks.” We won’t force people to get vaccines. Beaches are now accessible. Stores are now open. Schools are now in session. Everything is available. He made everything clear. And that, well, he went against what the experts said. He didn’t follow the rules. He always talked about the Fauci, the Faucist, or tyranny. He went against Washington. He was a hero because of that.

DAVIS: He has also taken a stand on culture war issues. For example, he signed a bill that says teachers can’t talk about s*xual orientation or gender identity before the fourth grade. He won this election with less than 1% of the votes. How has that changed his standing in a state that has been a “swing state” for a long time?

FILKINS: That’s cool. Florida is changing quickly, you know. And it’s not clear how much of that has to do with DeSantis. But since he won the election in 2018, the majority of registered voters in the state are now Republicans. This is the first time in decades that this has happened.

DAVIS: So, that’s Dexter Filkins from the New Yorker. The latest issue has his most recent article about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. We’re so glad you could join us.

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