Independents and Democrats responsible for fall in governor’s support, as Covid continues to hit his state
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has downplayed a 2024 presidential run as “nonsense” amid a falling approval rating and a Covid surge in his state, which has seen infections rise from around 2,000 to 20,000 a day in two months.
On Tuesday, the Republican governor of Florida was again asked about his potential plans of running for president in 2024, as Florida’s Department of Health announced an astonishing 56,082 cases from the Labor Day holiday weekend, according to The New York Times analysis.
Mr DeSantis told reporters at a healthcare facility in St Cloud, in central Florida, that “All the speculation about me is purely manufactured,” reported Politico. “I just do my job and we work hard. I hear all this stuff and honestly it’s nonsense.”
The remarks follow an apparent collapse in Mr DeSantis’ approval rating, which has fallen by 14 percentage points since the start of July – and before the Delta variant of Covid surged in the southern US state.
Morning Consult, who carried out the poll among 4,174 respondents between 21 -30 August, reported a 48 per cent approval rating for Mr DeSantis, who two months ago enjoyed a 63 per cent approval rating among all Florida voters.
The collapse – which was more than double the fall in support for Texas’s Republican governor, Gregg Abbott – was seen among Democrats and Independents, while Mr DeSantis’ approval with Republicans remained relatively stable.
In fact, as many as 83 per cent of Republicans approved of Florida’s governor, who has recently fought with schools on the issue of mask mandates, and has faced criticism for his rhetoric on public health measures to fight Covid.
Florida experienced a rapid surge in Covid infections in August, and is averaging about 17,000 a day. Deaths have also risen to 46,973 since the start of the Covid outbreak, and are currently 52 per cent higher than the number of fatalities seen a fortnight ago, according to analysis from The Times.
There has been intense speculation about who will run in 2024 among Republicans, with former President Donald Trump not ruling out another run for office, and Mr DeSantis being touted as a so-called successor to Mr Trump – despite his state suffering from Covid.
Florida’s governor, as Politico reported, has visited a number of states in 2021 but has avoided appearing in New Hampshire or Iowa – the two early primary states – where the former president is set to appear for a rally on 9 October, an aide confirmed on Tuesday.
The rally, which will be staged in Iowa, will fuel further speculation about Mr Trump announcing a 2024 bid.
Mr Trump himself suggested in April that Florida’s governor would be considered as a vice presidential candidate for 2024, if he was to announce a run for the presidency. Both the former president and Mr DeSantis are running nationwide funding campaigns.