Ron DeSantis Must Prepare for Trump Onslaught to Win Over Republicans

Ron DeSantis will have to endure constant attacks against him from Donald Trump if the Florida governor has any chance of replacing the former president at the top of the GOP, experts have said.

Trump is expected to finally confirm his intention to run for president for the third time in a "major announcement" at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Tuesday night.

While the previously all-powerful Trump has been hinting at a run for the White House ever since he left office in January 2021, the former president's reputation has taken a major hit following the GOP's poor midterm performance.

Trump has been blamed, including by those within the GOP, for the party not achieving a majority in the House and failing to take control of the Senate, as a number of his endorsed candidates lost their election races across the country.

trump desantis 2024
Florida Governor-elect Ron DeSantis (R) sits next to U.S. President Donald Trump during a meeting at the White House on December 13, 2018, in Washington, DC. The two look set to become rivals. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

DeSantis is widely considered a ready-made replacement for Trump, with conservative media and Republican figures openly suggesting that the governor should now lead the party into 2024.

In response, Trump, who once considered DeSantis a key ally, has now fully turned on the Florida governor, launching a fresh stream of attacks against his new potential rival.

While DeSantis has given no firm indication of his plans to run against Trump in 2024, Michael Binder, a professor of political science at the University of North Florida, suggested that the Florida governor will fail to topple the former president if the pair ultimately face off against each other.

"Obviously Trump has much better name recognition and much deeper support amongst the Republican base. But as the primary wears on, Ron DeSantis will get seen and heard and known by more people," Binder told Newsweek.

"The question is, can Ron DeSantis go toe-to-toe with Trump in a debate or, more importantly, on the campaign trail, when Trump can either get back on Twitter or put out statements where he's hammering 'Ron DeSanctimonious' and calling him 'Robot Ron' or whatever other new nickname he comes up with for him.

"I don't know that DeSantis can stand that over the course of six or eight months or a year."

As well as trying out a "Ron DeSanctimonious" nickname for his potential 2024 GOP primary challenger, the former president has also ramped up his attacks on DeSantis since the midterms in other ways, such as dismissing suggestions the Florida governor could beat him in a hypothetical match-up.

"Now that the Election in Florida is over, and everything went quite well, shouldn't it be said that in 2020, I got 1.1 Million more votes in Florida than Ron D got this year, 5.7 Million to 4.6 Million? Just asking?" Trump posted on Truth Social on November 9.

In a November 10 statement, Trump accused DeSantis of being an "average REPUBLICAN Governor with great Public Relations," who was "politically dead" before the former president endorsed him in his 2018 gubernatorial campaign.

Trump also made the unsubstantiated claim that DeSantis only beat Democrat Democrat Andrew Gillum in Florida's 2018 gubernatorial election because the former president "sent in the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys" to stop apparent ballot theft.

"I stopped his Election from being stolen," Trump added.

The week since the midterms has already laid the groundwork for how the fight for the future of the GOP could look for the next two years as the two firebrand GOP figures potentially battle for the 2024 nomination.

While Trump's reputation and apparent influence has been severely damaged after the November 8 elections, Julie Norman, associate professor in politics and international relations at the University College London (UCL), said it is still too early to dismiss the former president's chances of clinching the party's presidential nomination in 2024.

"Trump's grip on the GOP has loosened after the midterms, but don't expect him to fade away anytime soon," Norman told Newsweek.

"DeSantis got a bump after his romp in Florida last week that shows him matching or even exceeding Trump in voter preference polls for 2024. But expect Trump to come out swinging."