From 2018 to 2022, DeSantis was considered Trump’s protégé and legitimate political successor. They are now political opponents since the 2022 midterm elections. President Trump saw DeSantis’ political rise to national prominence as a threat and his candidacy is seen as a betrayal and disloyalty toward the Former President. The Florida Governor is categorized by the media as a far-right Republican and many of them do think that Trump and DeSantis are not that different on policy issues. Like Trump, DeSantis has put a strong emphasis on the cultural war. Indeed, Ron DeSantis has been extremely vocal against woke culture, and other pressing social issues. But the two conservative contenders are actually quite different on many political issues that go beyond social issues. Even on social issues, while they have many similarities, they are still different.
Where does DeSantis stand on Social Security and Medicare? Republicans have historically promoted various types of changes to the country’s entitlement programs, from cuts to raising the age to qualify for them, because they argue that doing so promotes the programs’ longevity and decreases the size of government. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump emerged as the party’s loudest voice in favor of keeping the program entirely intact. He said:
“Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security. Cust waste, fraud, and abuse everywhere that we can find it, and there’s plenty of it. But do not cut benefits our seniors worked for and paid for their entire lives Save Social Security, don’t destroy it.”
DeSantis sounds similar on this. He said:
“Look, I have more seniors here than just about anyone as a percentage. We are not going to mess around with Social Security as Republicans. I think that that’s pretty clear.”
However, while he was a Congressman, DeSantis supported certain changes to Social Security, including backing non-binding resolutions proposing raising the Social Security retirement age to 70—a record Trump has already attacked.
Where does DeSantis stand on taxes and spending? It is expected that President Trump will continue to boast about one of his signature legislative wins as President: a sweeping tax cut that he signed into law in 2017. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 would add $3.5 trillion to the nation’s deficit. Under Trump’s presidency, the national debt rose by almost $7.8 trillion, which was the third-largest increase ever in a four-year term. DeSantis, meanwhile, voted for that legislation when he was in the house and co-sponsored the Fair Tax Act of 2015, which would have imposed a 23% sales tax as a replacement for “the current income and corporate income tax, employment and self-employment taxes, and estate and gift taxes” and halted funding to the IRS after 2019. Trump’s allies have hammered DeSantis over his past support for the 23% tax sales. DeSantis could pose a contrast with Trump, who signed major omnibus packages into law in 2017 and 2018 as well as the government’s initial wave of sweeping COVID-19 relief. Trump had praised the $1.2 trillion bill signed in 2017 and lambasted the $1.3 trillion bill in 2018 before signing it. DeSantis voted against both pieces of legislation.
Where does DeSantis stand on gun control? Trump and DeSantis both opposed assault weapon bans and stronger background checks, but passed key measures after receiving public pressure following deadly mass shootings. While President Trump rolled back some gun regulations starting in the days of his presidency, his administration also banned bump stocks after the 2017 Las Vegas shooting that killed 58 people. DeSantis signed Florida’s red flag law following the 2018 mass shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. DeSantis has previously supported that policy but has been against further gun control legislation, and even championed a bill that removed the requirement of a permit to carry a concealed firearm in Florida.
Where does DeSantis stand on abortion? DeSantis is considered to be far more conservative than Trump on abortion issues. Indeed, President Trump declined to state whether he supports a ban on abortion at more than six weeks of presidency, but suggests the Florida law signed by his rival Gov. Ron DeSantis was “too harsh.” Prior to entering politics, Donald Trump used to support abortion rights. Nevertheless, since he became President, his three appointments to the Supreme Court were in the majority that overturned Roe v. Wade, meaning that President Trump led to the quashing of national abortion protections that anti-abortion activists have long been hoping for.
Of course, this is list of key issues is by no means exhaustive. In a near future as his campaign will develop, we will address DeSantis' stance on other issues such as trade, immigration, and foreign policy.