Former President Donald Trump indicated earlier this month that he would give Florida Governor Ron DeSantis a good whuppin’ were he to run for president. DeSantis, meanwhile, says he has no intention of going for the brass ring in 2024. All of this is true, but something is not adding up in this political equation because it sure does feel like the Florida governor is running for something.
In an interview with Fox’s Maria Bartiromo this weekend, DeSantis looked and sounded positively Calvinist, as if he were predestined for things to come. In the set-up to the segment, Bartiromo added to this perception when she introduced the Florida governor by saying, “He continues to fight the power grabs, ineptitude and unconstitutional rulings of this White House.”
All the Right Moves
Looking smart in an open-collared shirt with no tie, DeSantis coolly answered Bartiromo’s queries regarding a bevy of national issues dogging the Biden administration. Regarding the supply chain crisis, DeSantis pointed out the seaports in the Sunshine State are ready and waiting for all those container ships stacked up on the West Coast. He explained, “They made a big deal recently about California ports would start doing 24/7. We always do 24/7 in Florida.” Then he added, “Florida can step up and be a partial solution to this national crisis.”
In response to a question regarding jobs and the economy, DeSantis was able to rightfully crow, “September the nation reported 195,000 new jobs. Florida shared that with 84,500 [new jobs] out of that.” Then he connected the dots to the president’s vaccine mandates, which many believe will cause a negative economic ripple effect. “So, in Florida, our policy is very clear — we’re going to have a special session — and we’re going to say nobody should lose their job based on these injections. It’s a choice you can make, but we want to make sure we’re protecting your jobs and your livelihoods,” he asserted.
Peppering his comments with words like “liberty” and “freedom” as well as phrases like “right to work” and a business’ “right to operate,” DeSantis’ tenor was pitch-perfect for hungry and demoralized conservatives. He didn’t even have to raise his voice when he intoned, “His [Biden’s] job is to secure our country, and he’s failed to do so,” and “What Biden is doing [with the vaccine mandates] is unconstitutional.”
Presenting as an unflappable customer, he waited until the end of the interview to drop the bomb that had pundits on the right yammering the rest of Sunday and well into Monday:
“In the next legislative session, I’m going to hopefully sign legislation that gives a $5,000 bonus to any out-of-state law enforcement that relocates in Florida. So, NYPD, Minneapolis, Seattle, if you’re not being treated well. We’ll treat you better here. You can fill important needs for us, and we’ll compensate you as a result.”
In issuing that call to police and firefighters nationwide, one could detect an ever-so-slight smile from the Florida governor. It was as if he were saying, “If you want right-minded public policy without the histrionics, I’m your man.” Whether this interview was a not-so-subtle play to draft him to run against Donald Trump in 2024 is unclear. But for sure, DeSantis is looking and sounding a whole lot like the GOP alternative should Trump decide not to run again.
~ Read more from Leesa K. Donner.