Could the Trump FBI Raid Put DeSantis Off A 2024 Run? – Of all the hypothetical Republican contenders for president in 2024, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis seems to be the only one with a realistic chance of challenging former President Donald Trump. Some polls have put the firebrand conservative governor neck-and-neck with the former president, others have him at a close second, and some even give him a better chance of winning the nomination than Trump altogether.
Before Monday night, when the FBI executed a search warrant at former President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach home, Ron DeSantis could have easily leveraged his popularity as “America’s governor” into a viable 2024 run against Trump. Having seen the immense amount of support for the former president in the wake of the raid, however, it may give DeSantis a reason to stop and think again – assuming he was considering a presidential run in the first place.
Conservatives and Liberals Come to Trump’s Defense
Governors Kristi Noem and Glenn Youngkin, both rumored to be potential 2024 presidential candidates, rushed to the defense of the former president, describing the raid as “stunning.”
“This same DOJ labeled parents in Loudoun County as terrorists and failed to enforce federal law to protect Justices in their homes. Selective, politically motivated actions have no place in our democracy,” Youngkin said on Twitter.
Noem also insisted that the raid represented the “political weaponization” of the Justice Department.
“They’ve been after President Trump as a candidate, as President, and now as a former President. Using the criminal justice system in this manner is un-American,” Noem said.
While the two potential 2024 candidates may be looking to gain favor among Trump voters, the unprecedented nature of what happened on Monday night means that there is probably much more to this. While the January 6 investigation and the drama that comes with it may have put some Republicans off backing Trump in a third presidential run, what happened in Mar-a-Lago could prove so damaging to the Democrats’ narrative about Trump that Republicans drop those fears and reunite behind one of the most loved – and hated – presidents in modern history.
Even disgraced former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recognized the troubling nature of the raid, tweeting on Tuesday that the Department of Justice must explain the reason behind the raid or risk losing credibility.
“DOJ must immediately explain the reason for its raid & it must be more than a search for inconsequential archives or it will be viewed as a political tactic and undermine any future credible investigation & legitimacy of January 6 investigations,” Cuomo said.
And while the Democrat’s concerns about the raid are focused more on his belief that the former president committed some kind of crime in relation to the January 6 riots in 2021, and the likelihood that Trump could be prosecuted as a result, the tweet reveals just how damaging the raid could be and the kind of support that Trump could drum up as a result.
If the former president’s most vocal critics think this was a bad idea, then how does the electorate feel about it?
And how can a candidate, even one as popular and influential as DeSantis, compete against Trump in such a contentious political landscape?
No Bad Blood?
The raid has not only consolidated Trump support among Republican voters, but it appears to have brought the party together. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was among the flurry of high-profile Republicans who quickly jumped to Trump’s defense over the raid on his Florida home.
After the former president appeared to take a shot at DeSantis in January, slamming “gutless” politicians who refused whether or not they took the COVID-19 booster shot, Trump described reports about the comment as “fake news.” Since then, the two high-profile Republicans have said little about one another, but DeSantis planted himself firmly in the Trump camp over the FBI raid this week.
In a post on his personal Twitter account, the Florida governor described the raid as a “weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents,” adding that Hunter Biden – the disgraced son of President Joe Biden – was being “treated with kid gloves.”
“Now the Regime is getting another 87k IRS agents to wield against its adversaries? Banana Republic,” DeSantis added, referencing provisions within the newly-passed Inflation Reduction Act.
If Ron DeSantis was considering a 2024 run – and there’s no hard proof that he is – efforts by Democrats in Congress, the White House, and federal agencies to punish the former president or even block him from running again could be a reason for him to back off and wait until 2028. With a dedicated base of voters even more loyal, angry, and committed to former President Donald Trump, debating the former president in the primaries could put a target on DeSantis’ back and quickly destroy the huge amount of support he’s generated within the party over the last couple of years.
The Democrats may have finally taken things a step too far, and if the Republicans are about to go to war, they’ll need a leader willing to stop at nothing to remove the deep state apparatchiks. It’s hard to imagine the party wanting anyone other than Trump to do that.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.