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GAME OVER OR GAME ON? Trump dominates, but here are 5 reasons why DeSantis intrigues Evangelicals

Since next US president will have a huge impact on Israel, we’re tracking the race closely

Former U.S. President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (Photo: REUTERS/Jim Bourg and Sindel/Flash90 - AIN Staff Edit)

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – This week, the 2024 American presidential campaign kicked into high gear and is now moving fast and furious.

Given that the next American president will have a huge impact on U.S. policy towards Israel and our region – and the fact that 60 million Evangelicals in the States play such an important role in presidential politics – ALL ISRAEL NEWS will be tracking the race closely.

Former U.S. President Donald J. Trump is clearly dominating the GOP primary race.

Indeed, Trump is 32 points ahead of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who just entered the race on Wednesday, drawing 53.9% support to 21.3%, according to the Real Clear Politics average of recent polling.

That’s why Trump says it’s “game over.”

But DeSantis says it’s “game on.”

There are other challengers, too – though none of them, including former U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Senator Tim Scott, both from South Carolina – have broken into double digits. 

Former Vice President Mike Pence was also in Iowa this week, testing the waters, though no announcement has been set.


At the moment, most Evangelicals I talk to believe this is a two-man race, Trump vs. DeSantis, and they do not believe it is over – not by a long shot. 

To be sure, most Evangelicals are very appreciative of what Trump accomplished in office.
For example, they regard Trump as the most pro-life and most pro-Israel president in American history.

Thus, most indicate that they are willing to set aside the controversial things that Trump has said or done for the “greater good,” because they believe it is so urgent to remove U.S. President Joe Biden from office and get the country governed by a conservative once again.

That said, I don’t sense at all that the vast majority of Evangelicals have locked in on Trump.
To the contrary, there is much curiosity about DeSantis – and here are five reasons why.

First, Evangelicals want a proven winner in 2024.

  • DeSantis won his gubernatorial re-election by 19 points, scoring huge with independents, suburban women and Hispanics, as well as with hardcore Republicans.

  • Trump did not win his presidential re-election in 2020 and was not able to help GOP candidates win control of the Senate in 2022.

  • DeSantis raised $8.2 million in the first 24 hours after announcing his campaign.

  • By contrast, Trump raised $1.6 million in the first 24 hours after announcing his campaign last Fall – and after two weeks he’d raised only $4.1 million.

  • That said, Trump raised another $4 million in the first 24 hours after being indicted in April.

  • None of this means Evangelicals will abandon Trump or necessarily see him as unable to win – it simply means they’re watching DeSantis closely.

Second, DeSantis just signed a bill banning all abortions in Florida after six weeks.

  • Evangelicals urgently want a pro-life president in the White House.

  • The DeSantis law became one of the most sweeping pro-life laws in the U.S.

  • Trump, of course, appointed three pro-life Justices to the Supreme Court and thus helped overturn Roe V. Wade so his pro-life credentials are very impressive.

  • Yet, oddly, Trump just attacked the DeSantis law as “too harsh.”

  • Believe me, that’s not how Evangelicals in Iowa – who dominate the first-in-the-nation caucuses – see the DeSantis law. 

Third, DeSantis served in the U.S. Navy and is an Iraq war veteran.

Fourth, DeSantis is strongly pro-Israel and passionate about fighting anti-Semitism

Fifth, DeSantis has proven himself to be the most anti-woke governor in the U.S., proudly saying, “Florida is where woke goes to die.”

  • As strong and conservative as Trump proved himself to be in the White House, he did not show particular interest, much less passion, to take on the culture wars.

  • What’s more, Trump has blasted DeSantis for challenging the Disney corporation for its increasingly aggressive position to promote the LGBTQ+ agenda with elementary school children and support for transgender athletes in high school and college sports, saying, “Ron DeSantis’ failed war on Disney has done little for his limping shadow campaign, and now is doing even less for Florida’s economy.”

  • While DeSantis has been attacked by Trump’s allies as an “establishment Republican,” the Florida governor has actually been relentlessly combating woke-ism, something few in the establishment have been willing to do.

  • “How many establishment Republicans would have sent illegal aliens to Martha’s Vineyard,” DeSantis responded in an interview this week. “How many establishment Republicans would have stood up against Disney? How many establishment Republicans would have signed the bill that I just signed to ban land purchases from people affiliated with the CCP [Communist Chinese Party] in the state of Florida? How many establishment Republicans would have leaned in to support our children against the pronoun Olympics?….How many establishment Republicans would have banned gender transition surgeries for minors?... We will leave woke ideology in the dustbin of history.”

  • DeSantis has the best track record of any governor in the U.S. on these issues, all of which will resonate positively with Evangelicals as they begin to learn his story.


Don’t get me wrong.

I’m not dissing Trump.
Nor am I endorsing DeSantis.

I’m simply explaining how Evangelicals are feeling and five reasons they are taking a close look at the Florida governor.

There is a long, long way to the actual caucuses and primaries, much less to the actual nomination and then the general election.

But this is the beauty of the American political system. 

It puts even the best and most successful and wealthy candidates under the white hot lights of the public and the media and the world. 

Most can’t take the pressure and thus fold and retreat.

The ones who not only survive but thrive in the process are all the more ready to lead the nation – and the world – when they take the oath of office.

I have no idea how this race is going to play out.

But I promise that ALL ISRAEL NEWS and THE ROSENBERG REPORT will be tracking the campaign closely and helping Evangelicals make sense of it every step of the way.

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.

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