By Frank Fang
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) endorsed former President Donald Trump as the “strongest” candidate among presidential hopefuls in 2024, following Trump’s strong showings in a recent poll.
The poll, conducted by Harvard CAPS-Harris that queried 2,004 registered voters from May 17 to May 18, found Trump defeating President Joe Biden by seven points and Vice President Kamala Harris by 11 points in two separate hypothetical scenarios. The two Democrats scored a tie if either was matched up against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is widely seen as Trump’s biggest challenger to secure the GOP nomination in 2024.
“Trump is clearly our strongest 2024 candidate—and it’s not particularly close,” Gaetz wrote on Twitter on May 19, while sharing the results of the poll.
DeSantis has not officially launched a 2024 presidential bid but is expected to make his decision soon.
Apart from Trump, several major Republican 2024 challengers have formally launched presidential bids, including former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, biotechnology entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, conservative radio host Larry Elder, and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).
There have been indications that former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will enter the 2024 race, but neither has made a formal announcement.
The poll also found Trump leading the GOP field with 58 percent of support, with DeSantis finishing second with 16 percent, followed by a three-way tie of four percent between Ramaswamy, Pence, and Haley.
Trump also came out on top in one-on-one hypothetical GOP matchups against Scott (79 percent), Haley (78 percent), Pence (77 percent), and DeSantis (65 percent).
A recent RealClearPolitics aggregate of polls shows similar trends, with Trump beating Biden by 1.4 percentage points and Biden and DeSantis knotting a tie at 42.3 percent in hypothetical matchups. The aggregate also shows Trump leading other GOP presidential hopefuls with 56.3 percent of support, followed by DeSantis at 19.4 percent, Pence at 5.6 percent, Haley at 4.3 percent, Ramaswamy at 3.6 percent, and Scott at 1.8 percent.
The Florida congressman has endorsed Trump’s reelection bid before the former president formally announced his White House bid in November last year.
“Only Trump can be trusted to enact the ‘America First’ agenda he ran on in 2016. We won’t accept any imitation,” Gaetz wrote in a Daily Caller op-ed in November, days before Trump launched his 2024 bid.
“There’s so many more accomplishments left for us to achieve if we elect Donald Trump back to the White House,” Gaetz added. “America is broken under Biden. Trump alone can fix it.”
In March, when Trump held the first rally of his 2024 White House bid in Waco, Texas, Gaetz was among a group of current and former lawmakers who gave a speech.
“The best and the brightest of the Republican Party must unify under the Trump banner so that we can take on the evil leftists, and socialists, and communists,” Gaetz said in his speech, calling out DeSantis to endorse Trump’s White House bid.
“There is no success without victory and there is no Trumpism in 2024 without Donald J. Trump,” Gaetz added, before declaring himself as a “Donald Trump Republican.”
Trump endorsed Gaetz’s reelection bid in 2018 and endorsed Gaetz again before the congressman won a fourth term in Congress in 2022.
“Matt is a Champion of our MAGA Agenda, who tirelessly works to Drain the Swamp, Secure the Border, Support our Brave Veterans and Law Enforcement, Defend the Second Amendment, Stand Up to the Woke Mob, and Fight the Never-Ending Witch Hunts from the Radical Left that are destroying our Country!” Trump wrote when endorsing Gaetz in 2022.
Eleven lawmakers from Florida have chosen to endorse Trump for 2024, according to Ballotpedia’s endorsement tracker. They are Reps. Byron Donalds, Vern Buchanan, Anna Paulina Luna, Brian Mast, Cory Mills, John Rutherford, Greg Steube, Michael Waltz, Gus Bilirakis, Carlos Gimenez, and Gaetz.