Joe Henderson: Ron DeSantis’ presidential plans aren’t ‘nonsense’ to Florida voters

Ron Desantis jacksonville
Florida voters may think twice about giving the Governor four more years in office if they believe he only plans to stay for two.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said it’s “nonsense” to think he will run for President in 2024. Sure, he has to say that — for now, anyway — lest he upset what’s-his-name in Mar-a-Lago.

But while his mouth says no, his actions have long said something else. DeSantis has crisscrossed the country, raising vast amounts of money and popping up at high-profile Republican gatherings.

He also allowed the speculation about his presidential ambitions to go unchecked for months until asked about it at a recent news conference.

“All the speculation about me is purely manufactured. I just do my job. You know, we work hard,” DeSantis said. “I hear all of this stuff, and honestly, it’s nonsense. So you know, I don’t know what to say to those rumors.”

Well, he could say, “I’m absolutely not running for President in 2024,” but he won’t do that. Gotta keep those options open, along with all of that free media from Fox News.

DeSantis might as well have his own show there. The Tampa Bay Times examined 1,250 pages of the Governor’s emails and reported that from the 2020 election through February of this year, DeSantis had 113 appearances on Fox.

All the while, Donald Trump howls at the moon from his exile in Palm Beach.

However, there’s a more compelling reason for the Governor’s coy nondenial denial about his future aspirations. Before he can think about a White House run, he needs to win reelection to his current job.

He probably will do that, but it gets a little less certain every day. Fortunes can change rapidly, and DeSantis has embraced positions that could leave him vulnerable in 2022.

The most obvious gamble is his defiant stance against mandatory masks in Florida schools. Two Panhandle counties — Gulf and Taylor — closed their schools for several days after widespread infections of staff and students by the delta variant of COVID-19.

Two major court rulings on this issue went against DeSantis, but that doesn’t seem to matter to him. He continues to appeal for the right to dictate his one-size-fits-all mask strategy while multiple school districts throughout the state defy his attempt to tell them what to do.

That makes him look like a bully who is playing political games with children’s health.

It’s already having an impact on the public’s perception of DeSantis.

A Morning Consult survey of nearly 4,200 Florida voters showed a 14-point drop in the Governor’s approval rating. His handling of the pandemic seems to drive that decline.

Two months ago, he had a 12-point lead among independent voters. He is now down 11 points with that group — a stunning drop in a short time.

And now, a new and dangerous bug — the mu variant — has a toehold in Florida.

DeSantis also endorsed the widely panned and possibly illegal Texas abortion law. The Republican-led Florida Legislature seems likely to push for something similar next year, and, if enacted, that risks galvanizing women to vote against DeSantis.

Democrats also will make sure minorities remember that DeSantis signed a bill designed to make it harder for them to vote. Democrats are in many of those communities now, working to register new voters of color and giving them roadmaps around the GOP restrictions.

If that’s not enough, a Quinnipiac poll in August showed that 59% of Floridians don’t want DeSantis to run for President.

They may believe DeSantis has his eyes on the White House while occupying the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee. If so, they may think twice about giving another four-year term to someone who only plans to stick around for two years.

Is he running the state or running for an office he doesn’t yet hold?

That’s the tightrope DeSantis must walk in the coming year.

It’s easy to forget the presidential race is more than three years away, but the Governor’s ambitions, whatever they are, aren’t “nonsense” to Florida voters.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • TJC

    September 10, 2021 at 11:39 am

    DeSantis may be slippery enough to survive his anti-health shenanigans–and he no doubt believes (probably correctly) most Floridians will forget or be disinterested a year from now–so he may very well win a second term. A lot of Floridians are suckers for his mini-Trump persona, as are a lot of Fox Spews fans. But I don’t believe America will embrace him in a run for President. He believes it because his friends at Fox call him “America’s Governor,” but that doesn’t make it true. Americans aren’t going to forget the Florida Man who outlawed masks for children in school, the dumbest Florida Man story of the pandemic.

  • Tom

    September 12, 2021 at 9:28 am

    Good morning Joe.

    If POTUS #45 seeks the Presidency again it will be “nonsense” for Governor Ron to even consider it. He is right in calling it that for now.

    If #45 were not to, it would be wide open and as America’s Governor, he should consider doing so. Especially since this inept WH has built him up directly and indirectly as a leader in the Repub. party and conservative movement.
    The stupid award you continue to overlook.

    I do agree that Gov. Ron would be better off remembering the old political adage, “all politics are local” and continue to stay focused in that direction. That is his best example for accomplishment and ultimately certain election.

    The surveys you reference are in-material in my view when pollsters are asking Democrats and other independent partisan voters, if he should run in a specific partisan Repub. primary. TJC’s above cheap shot along with others prove my points. TJC how about over 25 monoclonal centers that he initiated with close to 100,000 being served. You and your extremists will attempt to diminish it but fail to understand the importance. Your inept WH hasn’t even referenced Regeneron until the past 48 hrs.
    Gov Ron in 3 weeks offered it with over 25 centers.

    Seeking the Presidency is a deeply personal decision. You have to have a inferno within to even consider it, let alone pursue it. We don’t know what he will decide. He is the youngest chief executive serving as Governor. He has a very, very young family. Time is on his side if he chooses to wait.

    He should not rule it out but he should just stay focused in as serving as Governor. The cheap partisan chatter and cheap one sided polls are the nonsense.

    His re-election is the blue print for Florida’s future and ultimately for his.

Comments are closed.


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