Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Downplays 2024 Aspirations: 'Not Considering Anything'

DeSantis said earlier this month that speculation about a presidential campaign was "purely manufactured"

Ron DeSantis
Ron DeSantis. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is continuing to downplay speculation he's preparing a 2024 presidential run, saying in a new interview that he is "not considering anything beyond doing my job."

The 43-year-old Republican told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday that he would be running for reelection in 2022, in what is sure to be a closely watched battleground race against his Democratic opponent.

And DeSantis said that, rather than the White House, he is also focused on "a lot of things in the state beyond the governor's race," such as school board races and banning critical race theory in public schools, which he did by executive order in June.

Critical race theory — an academic movement that views racism as embedded in the institutions and legal systems of the U.S. — has been thrust into the spotlight both because events like the murder of George Floyd have increased public awareness about racial inequality and because the theory has been turned into a flashpoint by conservatives who have described it in vast, menacing terms.

DeSantis previously called critical race theory a move to "indoctrinate [students] with ideology." He told Hannity this week: "I want to make sure people are not supporting critical race theory, making sure that parents have the ability to send their kid to school the way they want to."

He said 2024 was not on his radar.

Those remarks echo comments made earlier in September, when DeSantis insisted during a news conference that speculation about a presidential campaign was "purely manufactured."

"I just do my job and we work hard … I hear all this stuff and honestly it's nonsense," he told reporters on Sept. 7, per Fox News.

None of that is likely to dispel the discussion, however.

Despite a divided opinion on his handling of COVID-19, DeSantis is popular with the conservative base and often governs in a similar style to Donald Trump, the party's standard-bearer.

DeSantis has also worked to raise his national profile, sometimes by fueling culture-war conflicts similar to Trump.

On Sept. 12, he appeared alongside former Vice President Mike Pence (another rumored presidential contender) at an agricultural event held in Nebraska City.

Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty

The Republican governor, who narrowly won his 2018 election, is not without controversy.

Though DeSantis touted his decision last year not to impose widespread restrictions to — he said — protect the economy, he has faced much scrutiny for his handling of the pandemic, particularly over a spike in infections due to the delta variant, which drove tens of thousands of deaths since the summer.

Still, DeSantis opposed mandating public health measures in the state. He has said he would not declare a state of emergency over the virus and attempted to block local leaders' authority to issue mask mandates in municipalities throughout the state.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber told CNN in an August interview he and other Florida mayors were trying to "get around the governor's very wrong-headed desires."

"He should be screaming for people to get vaccinated, he should be urging them to wear masks," Gelber told CNN. "He creates a false choice that if you wear a mask it's going to shutter the economy. Of course that's not true. It feels like he's doing everything he can to make it harder."

In July, DeSantis issued an order barring local school districts from requiring students to wear masks, despite federal recommendations that all students in kindergarten through 12th grade wear face coverings when they return to the classroom in the fall.

DeSantis has also fought cruise ship companies that sought to require their passengers be vaccinated against the virus.

A fundraising group affiliated with DeSantis also released a line of merchandise that takes aim at masks and White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci, such as a $12 "Don't Fauci My Florida" koozie.

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