JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With former South Carolina governor and UN ambassador Nikki Haley tossing her hat in the 2024 presidential ring, the questions naturally quickly began swirling around Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has long been rumored as a possible presidential contender.
News4JAX asked DeSantis during a news conference in Jacksonville on Tuesday if he’d be following Haley and announcing his own bid for president.
“Wouldn’t you like to know,” DeSantis responded with a chuckle that elicited laughter and applause from the crowd.
He quickly moved on to the next question.
But DeSantis remains on the short list of those expected to challenge former president Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination.
Expected to join Haley, 51, are DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.
Haley was the first to announce her candidacy Tuesday, delivering the news in a tweeted video that marked an about-face for the ex-Trump Cabinet official, who said two years ago that she wouldn’t challenge her former boss for the White House in 2024. But she changed her mind in recent months, citing, among other things, the country’s economic troubles and the need for “generational change,” a nod to the 76-year-old Trump’s age.
“You should know this about me. I don't put up with bullies. And when you kick back, it hurts them more if you're wearing heels,” Haley said. “I'm Nikki Haley, and I'm running for president.”
President Joe Biden has said he intends to seek reelection in 2024, stalling any jostling for the Democratic nomination.
There appears to be openness among Republicans to new leadership, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. In an open-ended question asking Republicans to choose who they want to lead their party, a majority of Republicans didn’t choose either Trump or DeSantis, considered the former president’s top rival. But they also didn’t have a clear alternative in mind.
Eleven other politicians, including Haley, are named by just 1% of Republicans as their preferred leader.
Haley has regularly boasted about her track record of defying political expectations, saying, “I’ve never lost an election, and I’m not going to start now.”
If elected, Haley would be the nation’s first female president and the first U.S. president of Indian descent.
The daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley grew up enduring racist taunts in a small South Carolina town and has long referenced that impact on her personal and political arc.
In the three-and-a-half minute video, Haley referenced that past, saying she grew up “not Black, not white — I was different.”