JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – I’m halfway through the new book written by Governor Ron DeSantis and I have to say I’m impressed.
The book is fast-paced, engaging – even funny at times – and tells a pretty powerful story.
The rise of a working class, blue collar kid who grew up in Florida wanting to be a major league baseball player but instead graduates with honors from Yale and Harvard.
Joins the United States Navy as an officer, is assigned to be a JAG for the Navy SEALs.
Gets deployed to Iraq.
Comes back home to Florida to marry a beautiful TV anchor.
Runs for Congress as a conservative Catholic Republican and wins.
Runs for governor and wins.
Runs for re-election and wins a 19-point blowout in a state that George W. Bush barely won at all in 2000.
And is turning heads all over the country for aggressively and successfully advancing a pro-growth, pro-freedom, pro-life, pro-Israel and anti-woke agenda more impressively than almost any other governor in the country.
DESANTIS BOOK IS BLOWING AWAY ALL OTHER CAMPAIGN BOOKS
No wonder DeSantis’ book – The Courage To Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival – which released on Feb. 28 – has already become a #1 New York Times best-seller.
The book also hit #1 on the Publishers Weekly list, selling 94,284 copies in its first week on the shelves.
That’s more than first week sales of any other presidential candidate, according to the Daily Mail:
Hillary Clinton’s memoir, Hard Choices, sold 86,200 copies in its first week
Barak Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope, sold 67,500
Ben Carson’s book, A More Perfect Union, sold 37,924
Mike Pence’s book, So Help Me God, sold 37,600
Donald Trump’s 2015 book, Crippled America, sold 27,687
ROCKETING UP IN THE POLLS
A year ago, no one was even polling on a possible DeSantis run for the GOP nomination.
In May of last year, the first poll gave him just 8% support.
Today, he places second in the field of hypothetical contenders, drawing 28.3% support among GOP votes, compared to 43% for Trump, according to the Real Clear Politics average of all recent credible polls.
“But there’s a catch,” notes The Hill newspaper in D.C. “In polls testing a hypothetical head-to-head matchup between the two men, DeSantis routinely comes out on top, suggesting that Trump could be in trouble if Republican voters coalesce around an alternative.
In a theoretical head-to-head match with President Joe Biden, the latest polling puts the two men in a dead heat.
DeSantis clocks in at 42.8% to Biden’s 43.2%.
PREPARING FOR A PRESIDENTIAL BID
To put it bluntly: DeSantis is on fire.
He raised a record $220 million for his 2022 re-election campaign, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Of that, he still has $70 million in the bank that he can invest in laying the groundwork for a 2024 presidential campaign before he even announces.
He’s on a nationwide book tour which is attracting huge crowds and drawing millions of dollars in free publicity.
Today he’s speaking in Iowa, the home of the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, even as Trump is also speaking in the Hawkeye state.
TWO BIG QUESTIONS ALL DESANTIS WATCHERS WILL BE ASKING
The more of the book I read, the more I like.
But like all DeSantis watchers, there are two big questions I’m asking.
First, if DeSantis runs – and there seems little doubt of it at this point – can this conservative Catholic actually win over Evangelicals en masse?
From 2015 to 2020, Evangelicals overwhelmingly favored Donald Trump.
Now, many are splintering off into support for Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, and Mike Pompeo as they consider their best option for 2024.
So, how will DeSantis court and convert Evangelicals to his camp?
I, for one, will be watching this closely.
Second, is DeSantis ready for prime time?
There is no doubt that DeSantis is racking up huge policy wins in Florida.
But didn’t then-Governor Rick Perry rack up huge policy victories in Texas leading up to the 2012 presidential campaign?
Isn’t that why he had such strong poll numbers going into that primary fight?
Yes, but he crashed and burned on the national stage.
Don’t get me wrong.
I’ve met Perry a number of times and like him very much.
And he served ably as Trump’s secretary of energy.
I’m simply noting that being a conservative, successful and popular governor does not necessarily translate into a presidential win.
So, that’s another matter to watch closely.
Is DeSantis fully prepared to handled himself on foreign policy, national security and other national and global matters?
How will he fare when the bright lights of the national media are tracking his every move and every word, and looking for dirt everywhere he’s ever been?
I honestly don’t know.
So far, what I see in DeSantis, I like a great deal.
But this campaign season promises to be one like few others.
So, buckle up – it’s gonna get interesting – and ALL ISRAEL NEWS will be tracking all the action in both the Democratic and Republican contests because of the profound impact the American presidency plays on the future of Israel, the Middle East and North Africa.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.