Rep. Matt Gaetz said on Sunday that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis should be the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2024, if former President Donald Trump cannot run.
The moment: Gaetz, a Florida Republican, made the remarks on Sunday during an appearance on Fox News, where he discussed DeSantis’ vow to fight any potential travel bans directed at his state.
- “I’m proud of my friend and governor Ron DeSantis. How about this: If the Biden administration wants a travel restriction, why don’t they restrict the travel in the state of New York from the COVID hospitals to the nursing homes?” Gaetz said, taking a shot at the Empire State’s high fatality rate among nursing home residents and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s alleged coverup.
- “What Ron DeSantis didn’t say, which is the truth, is that the Biden folks know that if Donald Trump is not the candidate in 2024, the leader of our movement will be Ron DeSantis,” said Gaetz.
- “He is a strong potential presidential candidate in 2024, the Biden team knows that, and so they’re trying to somehow cast aspersions on the Florida experience because you know what, throughout America, there’s a lot of Florida envy right now.”
The context: Following reports the Biden administration is considering restricting travel to Florida to stop the spread of a new coronavirus variant, DeSantis appeared on Fox Business on Sunday to defend his decision not to enact sweeping lockdowns in his state.
- Gaetz, a staunch Trump ally, has fiercely defended the legacy of Biden’s predecessor, going as far as to campaign for the ouster of Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the House Republican Conference Chair who joined Democrats in voting to impeach Trump.
- Cheney survived the vote to remove her from her post by a healthy margin.
Who is Ron DeSantis? Political insiders have begun to float DeSantis, a retired Naval officer and Bronze Star recipient, as a frontrunner in the 2024 GOP nomination race.
- “Any serious handicapper would have to put DeSantis in tier one for 2024. And tier one is not big,” Tony Fabrizio, a top Republican pollster, told Politico.
- DeSantis’ supporters tout his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, during which he avoided economically onerous lockdowns and the catastrophic caseloads in many blue states.
- The Florida governors’ supporters also cite DeSantis’ combative stance toward the liberal media establishment as another major plus.