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DeSantis' presidential run will test if he has country-wide appeal

Gov. Ron DeSantis makes it official
Gov. Ron DeSantis makes it official 02:47

MIAMI - After months of speculation, Governor Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday evening he has entered the presidential race.

DeSantis launches presidential campaign in Twitter announcement plagued by glitches 02:44

"I'm running for president to lead our Great American Comeback," he tweeted.  

His planned Twitter Spaces conversation, scheduled for 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday, saw multiple technical issues that delayed his announcement by more than 20 minutes, as the platform kept crashing.  

DeSantis is jumping into an already growing field of Republican candidates that includes former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott. The biggest challenge will be former President Donald Trump. He led DeSantis in the latest CBS News poll by more than 30 points.

So the big question is does DeSantis have the power to overtake Trump and land the nomination?

Sean Foreman, a political science professor at Barry University, said DeSantis' run will be a test if he has a country-wide appeal.

The formal announcement came at 6 p.m. during a live appearance on Twitter with CEO Elon Musk.  

"Most people on social media are usually younger," said Republican State House Rep. Vicki Lopez.  "I think he's making his appeal to the young voters."

Republican State House Vicki Lopez supports the Governor, calling the Twitter announcement 'novel.'  

Generating buzz that opponents of a DeSantis bid believe will quickly vanish.

"Quickly fade," mentioned former Democrat Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.  "As we continue to see the attacks from Donald Trump to DeSantis.

South Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz said this about DeSantis' announcement, "You really have to look far and wide to find a more deplorable and damaging figure than Ron DeSantis. I mean just look what has happened under his watch: he's gutted voting rights, women's rights and civil rights. He's banned books that teach diversity." 

Former President Donald Trump launched another attack at DeSantis with a post on Truth Social Wednesday morning.  It reads in part:

"DeSanctimonious came to me asking for help... told me he had one last chance, my Support & Endorsement... Disloyal!!!"

CBS News Miami reporter Joe Gorchow asked RNC Chair of Miami-Dade County: "What's the divide among Florida Republicans when backing a Trump or DeSantis run to the White House?"

"Trump loyalists of people that are very loyal to, to the president that have felt that he's been given, you know, a lot of times just, undue scrutiny," said State House Rep and county RNC chair Alex Rizo.  "You have a number of people that do want something else."  

Rizo tells Gorchow he supports DeSantis.

Gorchow then asked, "Why do you believe Republicans fair better with the Governor winning the nomination?"

"His leadership style," emphasized Rizo.  "His leadership ability during crises."  "I think he would make a great president."  "Governor DeSantis, I think that you're gonna see a much more reserved, a much more measured response to attacks."

The DNC and the Make America Great Again sponsored advertising trucks attacking DeSantis policies that circled the Four Seasons since the morning.  

In a statement, the DNC Chair Jaime Harrison said in part: "Ron DeSantis has pushed an extreme MAGA agenda focused on ripping Floridians' freedoms away, and now he wants to take that agenda nationwide."

Former US Rep. Debbie Murcasel-Powell also believes DeSantis' policies are too extreme.

"This is not a man who is going to put the interests of American families before his own political ambition," said Murcasel-Powell.  "Florida is facing an affordability crisis, and Ron DeSantis and the legislature have done nothing."

Lopez feels very differently about the Governor's legislative accomplishments in Florida.

"His message has been well received around the country," said Lopez. "The optics of Governor Desantis and Casey Desantis and their three beautiful Children.  They have no baggage.  They are, they are people who have worked very hard and will continue to work hard."

So, how will DeSantis try to win the nomination over Trump?

Will he attack his policies, his personality, or will he take the high road and tout the strides he has made here in the state?

Foreman said it will be a fight to the end against Trump if he truly wants to win the nomination.

"Do the American voters want Biden or Trump again who are both going to be in their 80s? Or do we want a younger generation? I think most polls show most Americans do want younger candidates. The problem is Biden and Trump are at the top of their parties right now, so you have to knock them out and you have to make a case why we need a new generation of leadership. Not just because they are younger, but because they have better ideas or more experience. So that's the dilemma right now. I think many people know that both Biden and Trump are too old for the job, but they are also best positioned for it," he said.

Foreman said this election will be a test of how much appeal DeSantis has with the American people.

"Certainly DeSantis' popularity had a lot to do with coming out of COVID and reopening the schools, the businesses, and attracting people to Florida. That's certainly a part of his appeal but we're not sure how that's going to play in other states," he said.

While many Floridians and Americans may back the governor, others do not, fighting back against his policies and controversial remarks some of which include the so-called "Don't Say Gay" law, a six week abortion ban, and his stance on immigration.

"Those issues play well in Florida but it's not clear how they will play in Iowa, Michigan, or in other states he has to win," said Foreman

A pro-Trump political action committee has called out DeSantis, calling him "unelectable" and "out of step."  

Recent legislation passed will allow the governor to remain in his job while he campaigns for president. Foreman said DeSantis will have to show Floridians that he is putting them first.

The governor is scheduled to be in Miami Wednesday through Friday for meetings with longtime, top donors, who will be tasked with helping raise millions of dollars for his fledgling campaign in hopes of beginning with notable financial momentum as he joins the field.

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