(Jacob Bruns, Headline USA) After a disappionting evening for Republicans, who had expected a massive victory in the midterm elections, discussion has turned to taking the party’s 2024 campaign message in a different direction from that of former President Donald Trump.
Top level Republicans are now considering Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the GOP frontrunner, especially after his dominance in Florida yesterday over leftist challenger Charlie Crist by a margin of nearly 20 points.
During a debate with Crist, DeSantis declined to rule out the possibility of a presidential run.
Trump—who hinted at a major announcement coming on Nov. 15—has raised the heat on his potential challenger, dubbing him “Ron DeSanctimonious” in a recent rally and threatening the governor that he had “dirt” on him.
According to the New York Times, however, “the script has been written, the stage prepared: Now we’ll see whether the governor of Florida can play the part that’s waiting for him.”
Its more conservative cross-town rival was even more direct: “It’s time the GOP dumped Trump the Grump and ran with Ron DeSantis,” said an op-ed by former Celebrity Apprentice winner Piers Morgan in the New York Post.
Leading right-wing network Fox News also declared DeSantis the “new Republican Party leader.”
At his victory party on Tuesday, DeSantis delivered a speech laying out his platform for his second term.
“We have embraced freedom,” he said. “We have maintained law and order. We have protected the rights of parents. We have respected our taxpayers. And we reject woke ideology.”
“We will never, ever surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die.”
🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸Ron DeSantis wins Florida in a historic victory, then declares: "We saw freedom in America wither on the vine [during Covid]. Florida held the line.
"We will never, ever surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die."
Trump, move aside. Ron for 2024. pic.twitter.com/SvfOvQUkOr
— Ben Leo (@benleo444) November 9, 2022
Many in attendance erupted in chants of “two more years,” a nod to his widely anticipated entrance in the 2024 presidential race.
DeSantis is especially appealing because of his ability to flip traditionally blue counties like Miami-Dade, which has gone red for the first time in decades.
Fellow Florida Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio, predicted that the GOP wins in Florida were indicative of an overall change for the party and the country.
“You find people in the state from every background, and they have joined this incredible new movement that isn’t just going to change the country, it’s going to change the Republican Party,” Rubio said.
“After tonight, the Republican Party will never be the same, and that’s a great thing for America and a great thing for Republicans,” he added. ”Because this is a party made up of people from every color, every race, every ethnicity, men and women.”
Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.