DeSantis' vulnerability as the candidate to challenge Trump has ignited a sense of opportunity among his GOP rivals @realDonaldTrump
The upcoming week is poised to be a highly eventful period in the 2024 presidential campaign. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has officially filed his paperwork to run for president and is scheduled to launch his campaign in his home state on Monday. Meanwhile, Ron DeSantis, the Governor of Florida, is expected to kick off his bid later in the week, aiming to become the latest Florida governor to declare his candidacy with a bold and attention-grabbing rollout.
However, the excitement doesn't end there. New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu has expressed a strong likelihood of running for president, stating that there is a "61 percent chance" he will enter the race. Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota is also nearing a decision to launch his campaign in the coming weeks. Speculation about a potential bid from former New Jersey governor Chris Christie is increasing, as he previously mentioned making a decision in a few weeks.
Additionally, there's another contender in the mix, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, who is closely watching the race and cannot seem to divert his attention from it. He is considered a political heavyweight and has been generating significant interest.
No experienced and successful politician ventures into a presidential campaign without a detailed and plausible strategy for victory. As more potential candidates emerge, it becomes increasingly evident what lies at the core of their plans: a growing belief within the party that Ron DeSantis is not as formidable as he appears.
At one point, Governor DeSantis seemed to be the candidate best positioned to challenge both former President Trump and President Joe Biden. He embodied the Trump agenda without the associated baggage, and at 32 years younger, he brought a fresh perspective. His landslide re-election victory in 2022, with the largest winning margin in Florida in four decades, surprised officials from both parties. He also performed exceptionally well among all Latino groups, which caught everyone's attention.
DeSantis represented the possibility for the GOP to maintain Trump's conservative policies, unyielding approach, judicial appointments, and provoking of liberals. He was seen as a leader in handling the COVID-19 crisis and had the potential to win back the suburbs and the five states that Biden flipped in 2020.
However, DeSantis' controversies, such as his handling of the Disney issue and his stumble over Ukraine, have eroded his image of competence among donors and the business community. Trump's relentless attacks, which DeSantis has left unanswered, coupled with the continuous barrage of criticism, have left the governor somewhat wounded. Instead of projecting strength, DeSantis now appears to have thrived within a protective bubble, shielded from media scrutiny and surrounded by a compliant legislature afraid to challenge him.
On the eve of his campaign launch, DeSantis faces the perception that he is a fragile candidate, adorned with a glossy veneer, durable to an extent but lacking the resilience to withstand the forceful blows from Trump or the full onslaught of a united Democratic Party.
However, the notion that DeSantis is susceptible to a downfall is only part of the reason why the presidential race has suddenly become more enticing. In the three years since Trump lost re-election, there is little evidence to suggest that he can reclaim the White House, while there is mounting evidence that his presence could lead the party to defeat.
This belief is shared by a significant portion of the GOP political operatives and donor class. Most of Trump's primary rivals hold this viewpoint as well, and some, like Chris Christie, openly express it. Christie recently stated in a radio interview, "Donald Trump has done nothing but lose since he won the election in 2016.