Commentary: Yes, Ron DeSantis can recover and challenge Trump in the 2024 Republican race

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SAN ANTONIO, Texas: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday (May 24) formally entered the presidential nomination race, albeit on the heels of a slump. He broke the string of negative stories that had some people wondering whether he would drop out before reaching this stage, through a chaotic live announcement hosted by Elon Musk on Twitter, which was marred by glitches. 

But as DeSantis certainly knows, while slow starts in nationwide polls aren’t helpful, they can be overcome.

DeSantis may or may not wind up a serious challenger for the nomination in 2024. But presently, he is still the leading alternative to former US president Donald Trump. That’s not a bad position. Many eventual US presidential nominees suffer a protracted downturn along the way to winning in the primaries and caucuses. 


The story DeSantis would perhaps most like to mimic would be that of Barack Obama in 2008. Obama didn’t have to compete with a former president, but he did face two strong candidates, senator and former first lady Hillary Clinton, and former senator John Edwards, the 2004 vice presidential nominee.

Obama, like DeSantis in 2022, got off to a strong start and established himself in a top group with Clinton and Edwards, but then spent the fall of 2007 failing to make any progress, actually falling further behind Clinton. It wasn’t until he won the Iowa caucuses in January 2008 that his campaign took off and carried him to the Democratic nomination, and, ultimately, the presidency.

There was an even more spectacular rebound in that election on the Republican side. Senator John McCain, the runner-up to future President George W Bush in 2000, began the 2008 cycle as the frontrunner, but things quickly went south. By July 2007 his campaign had practically collapsed. 

Out of money and forced to cut expenses and staff, McCain was expected to drop out. Instead, he recovered and won the nomination relatively easily.

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