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After a recent falling out with former President Donald Trump, Fox News appears to be gassing up another Republican contender for the 2024 nomination: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
On Sunday, the conservative network ran a piece on the new Republican man of the hour and gushed over DeSantis’ fundraising prowess.
With the deadline to report March totals to the Florida Secretary of State approaching, DeSantis – branded ‘a fundraising behemoth’ by Rupert Murdoch‘s network – has raised more than $109 million through his reelection campaign and his political committee Friends of DeSantis.
The donations, first reported by the nonprofit Ballotpedia.org, make DeSantis, 43, the 2022 gubernatorial candidate with the most donations, followed by Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott at $44 million, and Democrat Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer at $14 million.
Fox went on to praise DeSantis’ ‘popularity, influence, and strength,’ deeming him a worthy contender for Trump, who has raised $125 million through his Save America political action committee.
The network has gone to extreme lengths to defend the former president’s decisions while he was in office, often praising his policies and even undermining reports about debunked election claims and his alleged role in the January 6 riot.
But the relationship between the magnate-turned-politician and the network became rocky after Trump hit out at Fox for calling the 2020 Presidential election for Biden.
Neither Trump nor DeSantis have confirmed 2024 ambitions. But early GOP polls indicate the Florida governor, who rose to national recognition with Trump’s blessing, is second to the ex-president as the favorite for the Republican nomination.
Fox News Digital has seemingly decided to switch gears in favor of Republican firebrand and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, touting him as a strong 2024 contender for Donald Trump
DeSantis – branded ‘a fundraising behemoth’ by Rupert Murdoch’s network – has raised more than $109million through his reelection campaign and his political committee Friends of DeSantis
The donations, first reported by the nonprofit Ballotpedia.org, make DeSantis the gubernatorial candidate with the most donations, followed by Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott at $44million, and Democrat Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer at $14million
Fox’s piece on Sunday comes after months of speculation on whether DeSantis will make a bid for the country’s highest office.
The Florida Senator has repeatedly refused to confirm or deny reports that he could run against Trump in the Republican primaries, saying the Presidential election is ‘way down the road. It’s not anything that I’m planning for.’
Just last week, Trump claimed that he would be the best candidate if he decides to run, and the likes of Mike Pence, his former vice president, Mike Pompeo, his former secretary of state, and DeSantis, would simply stand aside.
‘If I ran, I can’t imagine they’d want to run. Some out of loyalty would have had a hard time running,’ Trump told The Washington Post on Thursday.
‘I think that most of those people, and almost every name you mentioned, is there because of me. In some cases, because I backed them and endorsed them.’
Trump went on to claim that the Florida gubernatorial race ‘was over,’ the day he endorsed DeSantis.
‘You know Ron was at 3 percent, and the day I endorsed him, he won the race,’ he said.
Republican fundraiser and lobbyist David Tamasi told Fox News Digital that DeSantis reunited money from both small-dollar grassroots contributions and big, influential donors in the GOP.
The Florida governor is extremely popular in Republican circles, and is widely seen as a leader who can push policies popularized by Trump, but without the same level of drama or baggage.
But while DeSantis seems to be having no issue with the fundraising department, he would still face great challenges if he decides to run against Trump in the Republican primaries.
In late February, the former president was elected by the Conservative Political Conference (CPA) as their favorite for the 2024 Republican Presidential Nomination, receiving a 59percent approval. DeSantis only obtained a 28percent.
Neither Trump nor DeSantis have confirmed 2024 ambitions. But early GOP polls indicate the Florida governor, who rose to national recognition with Trump’s blessing, is second to the ex-president as the favorite for the Republican nomination
He insisted that the reported rivalry between him and Trump was a ‘bunk’ claim generated by the media, accusing them of stoking divisions to weaken the Republican Party ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
‘Donald Trump’s a friend of mine. He is proud when people do well, and it’s not just me, but obviously he’s a Florida resident, and he appreciates the job that we’ve done,’ DeSantis told Fox News in February.
‘He’s told me that many times, not only with helping with the election, but just how we govern the state.’
Multiple reports have indicated Trump is privately seething about DeSantis’ meteoric rise from pro-Trump House lawmaker to a top White House contender, and has bristled about the fact that DeSantis has not ruled out a 2024 challenge.
Earlier this year, a report by Axios claimed that Trump said the popular governor has ‘no personal charisma’ and a ‘dull personality.’
DeSantis reportedly also told his inner circle that Trump’s ‘expectation that he bend the knee is asking too much,’ the New York Times reported.
Sources close to the former president – who have recently talked to him about the governor – said Trump has grown increasingly irked by DeSantis in recent months, with Trump beginning to voice his frustrations to those in his inner circle.
DeSantis has become a favorite among Republicans for being outspoken about controversial topics. On Friday, the governor likened Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ liberal policies to that of communist Cuba, saying Florida would be caught between far-left leaders if she wins the 2022 race
DeSantis has become a favorite among Republicans for his limited-restriction approach to the COVID-19 pandemic and controversial takes on masking, vaccine mandates and transgender issues.
He has sued and threatened to pull funding from school districts that enforced mask mandates throughout the pandemic.
Last month, DeSantis signed the controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which bans educators from discussing gender issues with Pre-K to third-grade students.
‘I am standing my ground. I’m not backing down,’ DeSantis said in November at a Republican mixer. ‘We’ve done an awful lot in the state of Florida. We have a lot more to do, and I have only begun to fight.’
On Friday, the governor likened Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams to communist Cuba, saying Florida would be caught between far-left leaders if she wins the 2022 race.
‘If Stacey Abrams is elected governor of Georgia, I just want to be honest, that will be a Cold War between Florida and Georgia at that point,’ DeSantis said.
‘I mean, I can’t have Castro to my south and Abrams to my north. That’d be a disaster. So, I hope you guys take care of that and we end up in good shape,’ he told Georgia voters.
Despite DeSantis’ reference to Castro – whether he was referring to Cold War leader Fidel or his brother Raul who took over in 2011 – neither Castro is currently in power.
Cuba is headed by President Miguel Diaz-Canel.
A spokesperson for DeSantis’ office told Newsweek that he was simply making an analogy to the differences between how DeSantis runs Florida and how Georgia would run should Abrams win.
Last month, DeSantis signed the controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which bans educators from discussing gender issues with Pre-K to third-grade students
On April 1, the governor said some Republican legislators in Florida are considering punishing Walt Disney World for taking a public stand against the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill by repealing a 55-year law that allows the company to govern itself.
‘They have gotten incredible treatment from the Florida legislature and are treated on a pedestal, this one corporation is treated differently than anybody else,’ DeSantis told Fox & Friends.
‘That is not something I’ve ever supported. In the legislature, you see a move to reevaluate the special privileges.’
The controversial bill, which Disney spoke out against, forbids classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Its many critics argue that the law’s true intent is to marginalize LGBTQ people and their families.
Disney, which is Florida’s largest single employer and a major political donor, has found itself at the center of the escalating feud over the law, after progressive employees and customers blasted the company for donating money to all the sponsors of the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill and failing to denounce it.
In response to the backlash, which included protests and walkouts, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced in March that he would be meeting with DeSantis to oppose the bill.
‘I understand our original approach, no matter how well intended, didn’t quite get the job done,’ the CEO said at the time.
Source: Daily Mail