A panel on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” could not contain their surprise following the results of a 2024 straw poll of conservative voters that put Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in first place, referring to him as a “conquering king” in the GOP.
DeSantis won the straw poll at this year’s Western Conservative Summit in Colorado with 74% in approval as a possible 2024 candidate, topping former President Donald Trump, who came in second with 71% approval. The rest of the field was far behind, with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas coming in third place at 43%.
Before viewing the results, co-host Joe Scarborough referred to DeSantis as a “rock star” and a “conquering king” in the GOP based on the response he received at a separate conservative gathering at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in Kissimmee, Fla.
“But then, this one person said, ‘But my God, you should have seen the response for Ron DeSantis,” Scarborough said, quoting one of his sources who was at the event. “He was like a conquering king. And this person who’s been in Republican politics for 40, 45 years said, ‘I haven’t seen anything [like it] since Reagan in ‘80. He was unbelievable.'”
“Just rock star status,” Scarborough added. “This guy is taking over the Republican Party.”
FLORIDA GOV. DESANTIS CREDITS SUNSHINE STATE PANDEMIC ‘SUCCESS’ TO OPEN ECONOMY
DeSantis’ star rose in the conservative movement over the last year as he largely kept Florida “open for business” while many of his Democratic counterparts enforced strict COVID-19 lockdowns which critics often panned as arbitrary.
The governor’s most recent claimed victory against coronavirus closures came last week when a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “conditional sailing order” that halted cruise line operations during the pandemic.
“The CDC has been wrong all along, and they knew it,” DeSantis said in a statement about the decision. “The CDC and the Biden Administration concocted a plan to sink the cruise industry, hiding behind bureaucratic delay and lawsuits. Today, we are securing this victory for Florida families, for the cruise industry, and for every state that wants to preserve its rights in the face of unprecedented federal overreach.”
Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele predicted that the “macho” DeSantis’ showed during the pandemic will go far with GOP voters.
“What you’ve got is a governor, who, for a lot of the base, stood in the breech against the CDC onslaught and the requirements, and showed his macho that way, and quite effectively was able to leverage off of Trump to some degree,” Steele said. “And that’s worked to his advantage.”
Steele was one of a few “Morning Joe” panelists to suggest that DeSantis serves as an appealing alternative to Trump, noting that someone told him the governor is “Trump without the gold toilet.”
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In a less flattering summary of DeSantis’ agenda during the pandemic, co-host Mika Brzezinski referred to him as “one of the only governors to routinely reject CDC guidelines.”