Ron DeSantis of Florida should stay as governor “a bit longer” and not run for president in 2024, said Sarah Palin – the former Alaska governor who was John McCain’s running mate in 2008 but resigned rather than complete her term after Republican defeat.
DeSantis, 44, has not declared a run but is widely expected to do so as the only strong challenger to Donald Trump in polling regarding the forming field.
Palin, a Trump supporter, told Newsmax: “DeSantis doesn’t need to [run]. I envision him as our president someday but not right now.
“He should stay governor for a bit longer. He’s young, you know. He has decades ahead of him where he can be our president.”
The field of declared candidates is now two-strong, with the entry of Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and UN ambassador. One recent poll showed Haley splitting the anti-Trump vote with DeSantis and thereby handing the nomination to the legally embattled, electorally unpopular former president.
In office, DeSantis has aped Trump with hardline and often theatrically cruel policies, focusing on culture war issues including education and the Covid pandemic. But he stormed to re-election last year and is the party establishment favourite. He is widely reported to be readying a run.
Palin, 59, said she was “all about healthy, competitive primaries. That makes everybody debate more articulately and work harder and let the people know what records are and visions for this country are.
“… But when you talk about the specific people, the individual people who are looking at putting their hat in the ring … they got a lot of guts thinking they’re gonna go up against Trump.”
Asked if she would be willing to be Trump’s pick for vice-president, Palin said: “What President Trump and I have talked about is kind of the same thing that we’re talking about.”
Palin was plucked from relative obscurity to be McCain’s running mate against Barack Obama in 2008, a risky choice McCain reportedly made by miming rolling a dice and saying: “Fuck it. Let’s do it.”
Palin proved a hit with the Republican base – many see her selection as the birth moment of the populist far right which now dominates the party – but not with the electorate at large.
She quit as Alaska governor in July 2009, prompting widespread criticism for walking away from the job before her term was up. Many suspected she would run for president. That prospect never materialised but Palin has remained prominent on the US far right.
Last year, an attempt to win a seat in Congress fell short despite Trump’s support, with Alaska sending the Democrat Mary Peltola to Washington instead.
Palin also fell short in court, when she sued the New York Times for libel.
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