DeSantis pleased a certain segment of the party when he refused to shut down Florida in the midst of the pandemic, citing the impact on the economy. He has since battled with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the cruise industry over whether vacation cruisers should have to show proof of vaccinations against COVID-19 before boarding.
DeSantis may have some issues in a national campaign because of questions about his handling of the pandemic, says Michael Binder, associate political science professor at the University of North Florida.
More importantly, “The question is, what will happen when Trump turns on him?” Binder says. “Something like that’s going to come, especially if Trump views this guy as potentially overtaking him.” A CPAC straw poll held in February had Trump in the lead – but DeSantis led when the former president and fellow Florida resident was taken out of the running.
Trump has been back to his old self – holding rallies, raising money and suing people and companies that cross him, as he did recently with a lawsuit against Facebook and Twitter for suspending his account. But that can only take the former president so far, says Dave Woodard, a former Clemson University political scientist and GOP consultant in the Palmetto State.
“Trump may be jumping around,” but that does not necessarily amount to anything more than some “raw political power,” Woodard says.
“He still has his (loyal) group, but that’s going to shrink and shrink and shrink,” Woodard predicts.
At CPAC this weekend, however, it’s still the Trump Show.