Who is Ron DeSantis, the Florida Governor set to launch bid for White House

DeSantis will declare his candidacy on Twitter Spaces with entrepreneur Elon Musk

US-POLITICS-VOTE-DESANTIS Florida governor Ron DeSantis | AFP

Capping months of speculation, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will officially announce his bid for the White House on Wednesday. The Naval officer-turned-right-wing leader is expected to declare his candidacy on Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET (IST 3:30 am Thursday) during a conversation with entrepreneur Elon Musk on Twitter. 

As he enters the fray for the 2024 White House race, DeSantis will face a formindable enemy in the primary race, none other than former President Donald Trump. Though the poll figures still put him below Trump, DeSantis hopes to win over right-wing influencers and conservative voters by marking his presence on Twitter. His move is viewed as a swipe at the traditional media, which many conservatives tag as left-leaning.

Now that the battleground is set, Trump supporters have targetted DeSantis, mocking DeSantis for using Twitter to annouce his candidacy. "Announcing on Twitter is perfect for Ron DeSantis," a Trump adviser told Fox News. "This way he doesn’t have to interact with people and the media can’t ask him any questions."

Three decades younger than Trump, DeSantis was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2012. Interestingly, the Florida Governor was the former protege of Trump, having won his first Gubernatorial election with the former President's backing.

DeSantis was born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1978 and went on to study history at Yale University. He also graduated from the Harvard Law School. During his second year at Harvard, he was commissioned as an officer in the US Navy and was assigned to its legal arm, the Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps. He was  honourably discharged from the military in 2010, although he continues to serve in the US Navy reserve. 

A stern Obama critic, DeSantish campaigned on a platform of "small government" and reduced taxes. A report by BBC quotes DeSantis earlier speech about how his "mission was largely to stop Barack Obama." 

He has also been instrumental in making Florida a red state, thanks to his dissent against Biden government's coronavirus pandemic restrictions and propogation of "anti-woke" agenda.

DeSantis's conservative policies, including a controversial six-week abortion law, tougher immigration laws, curbs on gender and diversity issues in schools and green-lighting the ability to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, have often found him at the receiving end of liberal critics.

His conservative stance has also landed DeSantis in legal trouble, recently with Disney.  The corporation has criticised a Florida law that stops public school teachers from discussing sexuality and gender identity in the classroom. The law called Parental Rights in Education Act, referred to by critics as the 'Don’t Say Gay' bill, banned classroom instruction and discussion about sexual orientation and gender identity in certain elementary school grades.

Disney's criticism of the law did not go down well with DeSantis, who said "if Disney wants to pick a fight, they chose the wrong guy." 

The mega corporation reacted by announcing that it would cancel $1 billion office campus plan, thereby depriving Florida natives of thousands of employment oppurtunities. 

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