But minutes before Trump formally announced his decision from his Palm Beach-based Mar-a-Lago estate, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis was receiving a standing ovation from a room full of top Republicans, according to sources for Fox News.
The Florida governor, who recently won a second term by nearly a 20-point margin against his opponent, was the keynote speaker Tuesday night at the Republican Governors Association’s annual winter meeting, held this year in Orlando.
Reporters were not allowed at the event.
As Trump announces 2024 bid tonight, Gov. DeSantis is delivering keynote speech at the Republican Governors Association, per people familiar. Not open to the press.
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) November 15, 2022
Sources for Fox News said the popular Republican governor touted his “impressive re-election campaign.” DeSantis also reportedly bragged about his winning Miami-Dade County, explicitly noting the shift to the right by Hispanic voters.
Upon laying out a plan for his “Florida blueprint and the path to winning Hispanics, women, and independents,” Fox News sources said DeSantis received an “enthusiastic” response from the attendees.
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Yet another source told the outlet that DeSantis was cheered by those in attendance over the governor’s approach to combating wokeness, especially as it applies in schools.
Notably, DeSantis didn’t mention President Trump a single time. Trump “was not even a topic of discussion,” Fox News sources reported.
Meanwhile, the former president received roaring applause from the audience in his Mar-a-Lago ballroom for his Tuesday night announcement.
“In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Trump said.
— il Donaldo Trumpo (@PapiTrumpo) November 16, 2022
The 45th president tackled many of the ongoing issues and crises currently facing America on President Joe Biden’s watch, especially as it concerns America’s top adversaries, reminding the audience that when he was in the White House, those adversaries respected him and the United States in general.
TRUMP: “China, Russia, Iran, & North Korea were in check. They respected the United States & quite honestly, they respected me.” pic.twitter.com/mkBUxtuAoo
— NEWSMAX (@NEWSMAX) November 16, 2022
Trump’s speech was also well received by top Republicans, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who described Trump’s return speech as “pitch perfect.”
“I think he’s going to be unbeatable, if he stays in this message,” Huckabee told Newsmax.
Gov. DeSantis has consistently polled as Trump’s hypothetical top contender in a 2024 matchup. However, according to The Hill, DeSantis gained ground in a new Politico-Morning Consult poll on Tuesday, adding seven points to his previous number.
Now, 33 percent of “Republicans and Republican-leaning independents” would back the Florida governor, up from 26 percent in a previous iteration of the poll. Trump maintained a strong lead at 47 percent but slipped one point from 48 percent in the last survey.