Mark J. Terrill Associated Press Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during the second televised debate Wednesday evening
After the second televised debate of the Republican candidates for American presidential election next year, two observations stand out: despite his attempt to show more teeth in the face of Donald Trump, the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, presented for months as the most serious rival of the former -president, finally rose to the occasion on Wednesday evening, but too little, too late to slow his fall.
As for this gathering of presidential aspirants, orchestrated by the Fox network, it certainly allowed a few to make a good impression, but undoubtedly not enough to stop the most notable absentee from the debate, Donald Trump, in his race to win the Republican ticket again.
“It is still too early to make predictions [on the outcome of the current Republican primary], but Ron DeSantis' chances are less today 'today than they were at the start of the race, said in an interview with Devoirpolitical scientist Stephen Craig, professor at the University of Florida. He inflicted many injuries on himself by making several mistakes in his campaign. “He also tried to distinguish himself from Trump by trying to overtake him from the right, when in reality he should be focusing less on his ideological purity and more on the electability of his opponent”, afflicted by numerous lawsuits before the courts.
Wednesday evening, from the Ronald Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California, the elected official from Florida sought to ward off fate by directly attacking the ex-president on the results of his time at the White House. A frontal attack contrasting with the timidity expressed for months by the populist's opponents in the race who seek to avoid alienating Trump's electoral base. Pattern ? They need it to rise to the top of their party first, then to the top of the country, then.
“Where is Joe Biden? Ron DeSantis asked in the opening bars of the debate. He is missing in terms of leadership. But do you know who is also missing? Donald Trump, who should be there on stage this evening to defend his record. » A balance sheet containing according to him a contribution by Trump to the American debt to the tune of “7.8 billion dollars” during his presidency, “which opened the way to the inflation that we have at the moment”, a- he dropped.
Where is Joe Biden? He is missing in terms of leadership. But do you know who is also missing? Donald Trump.
Ironically, Joe Biden seized on the Republican governor's barely worded statement and immediately broadcast it on Network X, formerly Twitter, accompanied by a simple: “Totally agree. »
But this change in tone from Ron DeSantis may not necessarily change the course of his political trajectory, believes Dennis Goldford, professor of political science at Drake University in Iowa. It is in this state that Republican candidates will face their first electoral challenge, next January, as part of the ongoing nomination race.
“Ron DeSantis tried to present as being more Trump than Trump, but so far he has not succeeded, says Mr. Goldford from Des Moines, where Le Devoirjoined it. His relatively easy re-election in Florida last year [as governor of the nation's third-largest state] may have misled him into thinking he was a better candidate than he was. is in reality. The problem is that Republicans simply don't find him likeable, while Trump, despite his many failings, still has some charm in their eyes. »
The power of numbers
The voting intentions bear witness to this. The latest YouGov opinion measure for CBS confirms Donald Trump's 30-point lead over Ron DeSantis in the upcoming Republican caucuses in Iowa. A University of New Hampshire poll conducted for CNN last week placed the Florida politician in… fifth place in this state, behind the ex-president, far ahead with 39%, but also behind the rising figure in this race, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
“The race of Republican candidates has not fundamentally changed,” summarized political commentator Osita Nwanevu in the pages of the British daily The Guardian, following Wednesday evening’s debate. Donald Trump […], now a heroic figure in the Republican Party, maintains and will continue to maintain a considerable lead over his rivals who, apparently, can hope for nothing other than the hand of God, and even then, to dislodge him. »
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Three and a half months before the Iowa caucuses and the day after a debate in which the main winner is certainly the mainly absent, Donald Trump, the populist's considerable advance seems impossible to slow down. But it is not yet inevitable, believes Dennis Goldford. “In politics, a week is a long time,” he said. Yes, Trump is emerging as the Republican nominee at this point, but the race is not over. »
Next week, the trial of Donald Trump, prosecuted for lying about the value of the assets of his companies, is due to open in New York. On Tuesday, Judge Arthur Engoron of Manhattan also recognized the solidity of the case, which the populist is seeking to have annulled, the latter believing that his real estate empire had indeed been built on several decades of fraud.
After a series of spectacular indictments, the leading Republican candidate will have to face justice in the coming months for having attempted to falsify to his advantage the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, for having incited to the insurrection against the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and for illegally storing secret documents at his private residence in Mar-a-Lago after leaving the White House.
“At this time, any prediction would be risky, says Stephen Craig. We just have to wait and see what happens in the coming months. »