Ron DeSantis, Trump's main conservative rival, measures the temperature for the 2024 presidential elections | US elections

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis greets supporters inside at the annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition.WADE VANDERVORT (AFP)

Paul looks both ways to make sure no one listens to his opinion on the midterm election outcome. “I was very pleased that the deniers lost [en referencia a los candidatos republicanos que no reconocen la legitimidad de la victoria de Joe Biden en las últimas presidenciales]. And there was no fraud in the 2020 elections, am I being frank enough? ″, Asks this 52-year-old man in a mischievous tone, who does not want to reveal his last name. He is originally from Florida, but flew to Las Vegas to attend the annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), an event that has been starring Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. “Will the battle between DeSantis and Trump be disgusting? Of course. Everything in politics is, ”he sentences.

The appointment was an examination of conscience, but also a temperature check. One of the first catwalks of the main Republican candidates for the White House in 2024 took place over the weekend. DeSantis was the undisputed protagonist of this informal popularity contest. Last year he was one more speaker, but this year he has been the headliner, the one in charge of closing the meeting of this Zionist group founded almost 40 years ago. "Florida shows that there is a way out of the disaster that the country has been for two years," he said before the 850 attendees.

DeSantis projected the image of a winner after the November 8 elections, where he swept his re-election as governor of Florida, while the high expectations of the Republican Party were frustrated after winning the House of Representatives by the minimum. Before an audience that received him with a standing ovation, he put numbers to the victory of Florida, which has ceased to be a pivotal state to become a Republican bastion: four new legislators in the House of Representatives, a supermajority in the local Congress, victories in Democratic territories like Miami Beach and Miami Dade County. We reject the ideology woke [término descrito en el Diccionario de Oxford como: “Alerta a las injusticias y discriminaciones en la sociedad, especialmente en lo relativo al racismo”, y que se usa para ridiculizar ideas de izquierda]. We are going to fight it and we will not give up. Florida is where she goes to die lo woke”, said DeSantis, who led his Democratic rival with more than 1.5 million votes.

An attendee at the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting listens to Donald Trump.
An attendee at the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting listens to Donald Trump.Churchill Round (Bloomberg)

The 44-year-old governor was the only one of all the politicians present who managed to get the youth students of the Torah (Jewish law) to get up from their tables and approach the stage to see it up close and photograph it with their mobile phones. As he recounted how he uses water from the Sea of ​​Galilee to baptize his children, police officers walked bomb-sniffing dogs inside the casino compound. The Venetian.

Nikki Haley, the only woman among 17 speakers, preceded De Santis. The former governor of South Carolina sounds among the favorites to accompany the governor in his candidacy for the White House. “Many have asked me if I am going to present myself. Now I'll think about it seriously, but I've won very tough primaries and very close elections. I have always come from behind. I love it when people underestimate me. I have never lost an election and I am not going to start doing so now, ”she said in a speech that drew a standing ovation from those in attendance.

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Haley is originally from India (her maiden name is Randhawa). She arrived with her parents when she was a child in a rural area in the south of the country. This Saturday she was one of the voices that called for an end to the distribution of blame and the blows within the party. "The defeat is not due to a single person... The Democrats are united, but the Republicans fight almost as much among ourselves as we do against the Democrats," said the former Trump ambassador to the United Nations, responsible for the United States United States will leave the Human Rights Committee at the UN.

“Nikki would be a great replacement for Kamala Harris, who is also an American Indian,” says Judith Wachs, who flew in from Jerusalem for the first time at this meeting. “I want the next president of the United States to fix the quagmire that is the Middle East,” she says. The woman celebrates the Abraham Accords, which were promoted by the Trump Administration and through which Israel established diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Oman and Sudan in 2020. “The agreements have changed everything. Now the city is full of businessmen who were previously barred from entering the country… Extremists have been isolated,” she notes.

The American Jewish vote has been gaining ground within the Republican Party. Historical supporters of the Democrats for their social policies, this group has increased its support for the Republicans, who have promised unlimited support for Israel in the midst of an ever-turbulent transformation of the Middle East. The vote of this group represented 11% in the triumph of George Bush Sr., in 1988. In 2000, with George W. Bush, it was 19%. And in the elections last Tuesday it was 33%, according to various surveys.

Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina, at the Las Vegas event.
Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina, at the Las Vegas event.CAROLINE BREHMAN (EFE)

This has turned the RJC meeting into a hoop that those with political ambitions must jump through. The applicants parade exposing their milestones in the defense of Israel. In this sense, former President Donald Trump expressed himself, who extended more about the Middle East question than about the result of the legislative ones. “The most important thing I did was end that death certificate that was the nuclear deal with Iran. [firmado por Obama]. It was a horror show, ”said the former president, who appeared on the screen from Mar-A-Lago (Florida) minutes before Elon Musk announced that he was returning his Twitter account. The former White House occupant received measured applause. Many of the attendees did not even get up from their chairs.

Mike Pence, in full promotion of his book so help me god (the end of the phrase used to take an oath of office), insisted on the need to renew the narrative after the Trump era. “To win in the future, I think Republicans and elected officials need to do more than criticize and complain. We must unite the party around an optimistic agenda that shows us a clear path to victory in 2024," warned the vice president. Other speakers included, in person or via video links, Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State under Trump, Kevin McCarthy, who will try to be the Republican House Majority Leader in January, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, Senator Bill Hagerty (Tennessee) and Israel's prime minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu.

The most critical of Trump were some moderate governors. Among them Chris Christie, the former president of New Jersey, who broke with the former president by refusing to affirm that there was electoral fraud two years ago. Christie claimed that Trump only used one criteria in selecting the candidates he endorsed: “Not that they were eligible. Nor is his experience, wisdom, or charisma. Nor the ability to govern. Only if they considered that the 2020 election was stolen or not," said the candidate, who competed in the party's primaries in 2016. "We lose and we lose. And the reason is that Donald Trump has put himself before everyone else."

He was not the only critical voice. Larry Hogan, the governor of Maryland, the second most approved in the United States (behind only Montana), took the microphone and put his finger on the sore. “A party that has lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections is in desperate need of a new direction... The voters have given a very clear signal that it is time to turn the page. It is time for the party to move forward and stop looking back,” said Hogan, whose term ends in January 2023. He declined this weekend to say whether he is running for president. He said it was too soon to tell, but he didn't rule it out. He could be a candidate for a primary that is forecast to be very crowded.

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