What Ron DeSantis *didn’t* say about 2024 is telling



CNN

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave the clearest evidence yet that he is considering a run for president during a debate with Democrat Charlie Crist on Monday night.

Crist, the former Florida governor, directly challenged DeSantis to say he would serve a four-year term if he wins next month. “Why don’t you look the people of the state of Florida in the eye and say that if you are re-elected, you will serve a full four-year term as governor?” said Crist. “Yes or no?”

DeSantis, at first, said nothing. In fact, he didn’t say anything for a long time. (The candidates did not agree to ask each other questions directly on stage.)

Crist pushed DeSantis further. “It’s not a hard question,” Crist added. “It’s a fair question. He won’t tell you.”

Finally, when Crist’s time to speak was up, DeSantis responded with this response: “I know Charlie is interested in talking about 2024, Joe Biden. But I want to make things very, very clear. The only worn-out old donkey I want to put out to pasture is Charlie Crist.

The exchange was enlightening in several areas:

1) DeSantis did not deny his interest in running for office other than governor. The simplest thing in the world would have been to simply say, “I will serve the full four-year term.” Or something along those lines. He didn’t do it. Why? Because he is thinking about the 2024 presidential race.

2) When DeSantis finally answered Crist’s question, it was with a ready-made line that he certainly prepared for such a question. That means he and his team knew the governor would press him on his presidential ambitions and wanted to make sure he had an answer to such a question.

DeSantis’ response — and the lack of clarity he received — will only fuel the debate over whether he plans to strongly consider a national bid if, as expected, he wins a second term as Florida governor in November.

Polls suggest DeSantis is the only Republican likely to beat former President Donald Trump in the 2024 primary, at least today, though the governor would also enter the race as a clear underdog.

Trump clearly knows and is threatened by DeSantis’ interest in the 2024 race. On Monday, Trump blamed DeSantis for endorsing Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea of ​​Colorado, who recently told CNN that he didn’t think Trump should run for president again and would “actively” oppose the former president if he did.

Trump previously said he “did” DeSantis in the 2018 gubernatorial primary by endorsing the then-congressman and didn’t think DeSantis would run against him in 2024.

Unlike almost everyone in the Republican Party, however, DeSantis has avoided bowing at Trump’s altar. The Florida governor has not sought Trump’s endorsement during his election campaign and has refused to run for president if Trump is in the running in 2024.

With all that context in mind, you can be sure that Trump was watching DeSantis’ response very closely on Monday night in 2024, and he can’t be too happy with what DeSantis did (and didn’t) say.