Former President Donald Trump officially entered the race for President 2024 on Tuesday which effectively means that all eyes will now be on who wins the Republican Presidential Primary. The potential top contender who has emerged against Trump, although he still needs to make the official bid for office, is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. 

The two have been at loggerheads since before the midterms. But things really started to unravel after November 8. After Republicans underperformed in the midterms, many conservatives were quick to blame Trump as having been responsible for a failure to reach independent voters. The former president has lashed out at DeSantis,  branding him“Ron DeSanctimonious.”

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Hours before Trump’s Tuesday night announcement at Mar-a-Lago, Florida said at a news conference in Fort Walton Beach that he dismissed the former president’s attacks against him as noise. “One of the things that I’ve learned in this job, when you’re leading, when you are getting things done, yeah, you take incoming fire. That’s just the nature of it,” DeSantis said. 

“I don’t think any governor got attacked more, particularly by corporate media, than me over my four-year term. And yet, I think what you learn is, all that’s just noise. And really what matters is, are you leading? Are you getting in front of issues? Are you delivering results for people? And are you standing up for folks? And if you do that, then, none of that stuff matters.”

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This was also the first time DeSantis has publicly addressed the results of the midterms since election night when his 19-point victory in Florida stood out as a rare bright spot for Republicans. “And that’s what we’ve done. We’ve focused on results and leadership. And you know at the end of the day, I would just tell people to check out the scoreboard last Tuesday night,” he added.

While it is too early to predict who could possibly win in 2024, some of the early polls are pointing toward Trump being favoured to be the popular pick. According to Civiqs, 80% of registered Republican voters have a favourable view of the former president, and only 11% have an unfavourable view. 

Trump also leads early polling of the Republican primary by a substantial margin. He registers in the high 40s or low 50s, 20-30 points ahead of DeSantis in most of the national surveys. 

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But a number of Trump supporters have withdrawn their support from the former president. Terri Burl, an early member of Women for Trump and chair of her local Republican party branch in northern Wisconsin, said that she has had enough of Trump. 

Burl predicts “a lot of blood on the floor” if it comes to a fight with DeSantis. “I will back whoever the Republicans choose to run in 2024. That’s a given. But I want them to go through the primaries and I hope it’s not Trump. He has too much baggage now. We need new blood because it’s obvious that he can’t get to business now without doing things to make people angry. His behavior hasn’t changed,” she said.  

Even right-wing media mogul, Rupert Murdoch appears to be seeking a clean break from the former president’s damaged reputation. “We have been clear with Donald. There have been conversations between them during which Rupert made it clear to Donald that we cannot back another run for the White House,” a senior News Corp source told the I newspaper.