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DeSantis sets GOP agenda, and Dems should worry

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The most intriguing politician in the Republican Party is an uncharismatic governor who's trying to make the GOP's culture war appealing to suburban mothers.

Ron DeSantis, the 43-year-old governor of Florida, has been on a tear. Originally a tea party-style fiscal conservative, he's embraced a series of hard-edged positions that have boosted him into second place in early — OK, way-too-early — polls for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. (First place is still occupied by former President Donald Trump.)

"He's taken on the left more aggressively than any U.S. governor in modern history," Fox News pundit Laura Ingraham enthused last month when she devoted an entire hour of her prime-time program to DeSantis.

"I don't know if it's by luck or by smarts, but that guy has a gift for framing issues and finding the right enemies," said Republican strategist Scott Jennings, a longtime adviser to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Republican pollster Whit Ayres offered a more succinct explanation: "He's Trump without the craziness."

DeSantis broke into national prominence early in the COVID-19 pandemic, when he became the nation's most powerful opponent of lockdowns and vaccine mandates. Some states, like California, kept schools closed for a full year or more; DeSantis ordered Florida's schools to........

© Olean Times Herald

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