Supporters at DeSantis’ Jax book tour stop torn on potential presidential run

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis made two stops in Jacksonville promoting his new book Thursday, and the Governor’s public appearances are starting to look more and more like campaign rallies.

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In his remarks at FOP headquarters in Englewood, DeSantis spoke about his relationship with his wife Casey, their children and his military career.

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It was a notable break from his usual routine where he typically homes in on a specific policy proposal or piece of legislation.

DeSantis also listed off a number of his political battles and victories throughout his tenure as governor.

In line with the name of his book, DeSantis painted his “Florida Blueprint” as a model for the nation, giving the book tour the appearance of a soft launch for a Presidential campaign, though DeSantis has not officially announced whether he’ll run.

“I think that what Florida has shown, there’s a strong majority of Americans out there that understands some of this stuff has gone off the rails. We need a strong dose of common sense. We need to restore sanity to this country and I think you’re gonna see that in state after state and throughout the United States,” DeSantis said.

Related Story: Gov. DeSantis prepares to commence book tour as Florida lawmakers prepare to commence 2023 session

We were able to confirm with campaign staff, DeSantis will be making stops in Texas, California and even Des Moines, Iowa (a critical stop for anyone running for President) over the coming weeks.

While DeSantis will be in the State Capitol Tuesday to deliver the State of the State address, he’ll be out on the book tour circuit as the Florida Legislature begins their work in the 2023 legislative session.

“Practically speaking he probably doesn’t need to be here for a lot of that stuff,” UNF political science professor Sean Freeder said.

Freeder said the optics of traveling the country while the legislature is in session could come back to haunt the governor.

“At some point towards the end of the year when he’s say in a Republican Primary debate somebody is going to be making this case against him. And so, you know whatever sort of advantages he might be able to get from doing this tour right now it is going to open up some disadvantages for him as well,” Freeder said.

If DeSantis does decide to run, there’s a big obstacle in the way: Former President Donald Trump.

Read: ‘Wouldn’t you like to know?’ Florida Gov. DeSantis asked in Jacksonville about 2024 presidential run

Robert Schindler was among the dozens still lined up outside the Marsh Landing Books-A-Million for chance to get a quick moment with the Governor around 11:30 this morning.

“He’s a leader. I mean, he leads by example,” Schindler said.

There was common thread in people’s responses when asked who they would vote for if it came down to DeSantis and Trump in a Republican Presidential Primary.

Many were still torn.

“I would have to go with DeSantis, but I would hope that they would run together,” Schindler said.

Mary Lane Perret, who attended the FOP event later in the day, told us she hadn’t made up her mind.

“That’s a hard question to say, because each has their own personality,” Perret said.

Also at the FOP event was Vickie Kneemeyer, who said she’s open to either candidate, but she’d prefer DeSantis stay put for now.

Read: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs law putting Disney’s improvement district under state control

“I don’t want to lose him, but I think he’s young enough to do both; to be our governor for another four years and then he’d be ready to just take over,” Kneemeyer said.

Freeder argued with DeSantis and Trump on roughly equal footing when it comes to campaign finances and most polls still showing Trump on top, DeSantis will have to find a way to win over those undecided voters if he hopes to take the nomination.

“All the endorsements, all the money, all the other advantages in the world, you know, really aren’t going to dissuade Trump voters from the fact that they support Trump more than they support DeSantis at this moment,” Freeder said.

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Many in the world of politics view this cross-country book tour as DeSantis’ first attempt to win over those undecided voters outside of his own state.

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