Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis commented on the Republican Party’s “huge underperformance” in the midterm elections at a press conference on Thursday, giving reasons why his re-election victory was dominant while the GOP nationwide captured just a slim House majority and failed to take the Senate.
DeSantis, who has been hailed by some Republicans as the new “head of the party” after his nearly 20-point landslide win, was asked for his thoughts on former President Trump being back in the news every day and perceived divisions in the GOP. The governor, who may challenge Trump in 2024, did not comment on his would-be primary opponent but did push back on the notion that Republicans are divided.
“We assumed we were going to end up with like 245 House members, we’re at 222 it looks like, which is a huge underperformance,” DeSantis said. “The question is, you know, why did that happen?”
He observed that historic trends favored Republicans and that President Biden’s unpopularity and widespread belief that the country is headed in the wrong direction should have led to big GOP gains in Congress.
“Usually those voters are going to want to vote for people that are offering an alternative, and yet some of those voters throughout the country, not in Florida, but throughout the country, even though they disapproved of Biden, even though they disapproved of the direction of the country, they still didn’t want to vote, you know, for some of our candidates,” DeSantis said.
“I don’t think it’s a question of necessarily being divided as a party, I think it’s like, OK, how do you run and win majorities?” he continued.
“I think what we’ve done in Florida is we’ve shown that we’ve exercised leadership, we’ve not kowtowed, we’ve been willing to take on big interests … but producing results, and then that ends up attracting more people to want to be on your team,” DeSantis said. “That was not something that was happening throughout the rest of the country.”
While the governor has kept silent on his future ambitions, DeSantis fueled speculation that he intends to run for president with the upcoming release of an autobiography titled, “The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival.”
The publishers said that the book “will center on critical issues that brought [DeSantis] to the center of the debate over the future of our country. He shares his thinking from when he was fighting back against COVID mandates and restrictions, critical race theory, woke corporations” and what they describe as “the partisan legacy media.” They added that the memoir will chronicle what they call “his bold, substantial policy achievements.”
While Trump, who launched his third White House run two weeks ago, is considered the clear front-runner in the GOP nomination race, DeSantis has seen his poll numbers in 2024 Republican presidential surveys start to rival Trump’s, and his fundraising prowess matches the former president’s.
Fox News’ Andrew Murray and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.