According to court documents released Friday after a federal judge issued a warrant for the decision that authorized the week’s unprecedented search, the FBI recovered documents deemed “top secret” from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, Florida estate. . Video / hotspot
They were waiting for a new warrior to take over the White House: Donald Trump for the next generation.
Ron DeSantis vowed as he took the stage in Pittsburgh, vowing to put on the “armor of God” and lead the Republicans to victory.
Presenting himself as a seasoned martial leader, he vowed to “never succumb to an awakening ideology” to the enthusiastic reception of an audience of thousands.
DeSantis’ debut in Pennsylvania was part of a small tour of Arizona and Ohio, ostensibly to support Republicans in key warring states ahead of the November midterm elections.
But the 1,450-mile drive from his governor’s mansion in Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, is just the latest sign that DeSantis is plunging into the waters of the 2024 presidential race.
His 40-minute speech had all the hallmarks of a presidential stadium: personal history preserved. a detailed list of political achievements; And a laser focus on national issues.
He also highlighted the ongoing struggle for control of the Republican Party after a series of primaries, including a painful defeat to Liz Cheney’s party that cemented Trump’s control of the base.
DeSantis, the anti-revival governor, presented himself to voters as a younger and more fit version of the controversial 76-year-old politician. At 43, he is more than three decades younger than Trump.
Entering the hotel ballroom for Sweet Florida in Pittsburgh, he took a page from a Trump playbook and tossed his name baseball caps into the adoring crowd.
His speech also echoed Trump’s tough approach to fighting violent crime, illegal immigration and banning transgender athletes from women’s sports.
“The revivalist ideology is a really mind-destroying virus,” he said, adding Churchill with taste: “We have to fight the revival in our schools, we have to fight the revival in our company, and we have to fight the revival in our government. agencies. ”
The crowd cheered, often standing up as DeSantis criticized liberal politics.
A new darling of the conservative base, DeSantis sees a winning strategy in emulating Trump for fomenting culture wars, but with a less militant approach that broadens his appeal.
It’s about walking a fine line: avoiding attacking the former president, thereby alienating his base, while subtly implying that the Republican Party is no longer beholden to the former president.
Friday’s event was a rally in support of Doug Mastriano, the Trump-supported candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, who has backed Trump’s allegations of electoral fraud. But DeSantis never named his creator by name.
Instead, DeSantis checked the names of other former leaders to attack Joe Biden, suggesting that the 79-year-old was not right for the role.
“I am thinking of some of our other presidents,” he told the audience, listing the country’s great leaders. “Think of Kennedy Kennedy… Think of President Reagan. »
Whether this will work remains to be seen. Trump retains control of the party base, as evidenced by the expulsion of his opponent Cheney from Congress this week.
His outspoken criticism of the former president made him a prime target and led to his crushing defeat at the hands of his chosen rival Harriet Hageman in the Wyoming Republican primary.
Cheney vowed to do everything in his power to derail Trump if he enters the 2024 race, alluding to a White House offer from him.
She is the latest senior Republican to break with Trump over a possible candidacy.
His former Vice President Mike Pence, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have drawn similar grumblings.
But Cheney’s crushing defeat underscored the power of the former president’s retaliation.
In total, Trump took part in more than 200 preliminary races this year. According to the analysis, his candidates won more than 90% of them.
Trump also remains the undisputed leader of the Republican Party in a number of opinion polls, though most suggest he has plenty of room for a challenger.
They include a New York Times/Siena College poll last month that found nearly half of 2024 Republican voters would prefer another candidate over Trump.
Trump’s potential rivals in 2024 are spying on a new overture to the 76-year-old Trump’s growing legal troubles.
Laura Ingram, a Fox News anchor and powerful Trump ally, is among those who suggest voters may want to “turn the page” on the former president after the FBI raid on his home.
“They’re so tired of the fight, the ongoing fight, that they might think it’s time to move on if we can find someone who has all of Trump’s policies and not Trump’s,” she said.
Young activists indicated that DeSantis might be the right person for the job.
“He is one of America’s most popular leaders. He has become a role model for the neoconservative movement,” said Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point Action, a group of young conservatives that is organizing a multi-state tour of DeSantis.
Hundreds of his supporters lined the streets of downtown Pittsburgh for hours to hear him speak, dressed in red caps, shorts and American flag-themed T-shirts.
“He is so wise and so smart. I love what he did in Florida, so many people flock there because of him,” said Depp, a 68-year-old retiree who came to listen to DeSantis. in Pittsburgh.
She said the Florida governor’s “equal temperament” would force him to vote for Trump in a hypothetical contest. She added, “These two people have different personalities. You can see it. »
But for all DeSantis’ enthusiasm, he has an uphill battle ahead of him if he wants to wrest control of the Republican Party from its current leader.
As Trump continues to tease a third attempt to take over the White House, many participants in Pittsburgh have said they will support him.
Donna Nienhauser, 65, was clean. “He is the only one who can save this country now,” she said.
Travis, a 22-year-old college student, said he admires DeSantis’ “backbone” and his ability to “talk to normal people.”
But when faced with a choice in 2024, he still leans toward Trump. “President Trump has already shown four years of results,” he said.
In the national spotlight, DeSantis may find that simply repeating Trump may not be enough to replace him.