Gaetz suggests DeSantis could run for president in 2024 if Trump is out of the picture

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzBipartisan senators to hold hearing on 'toxic conservatorships' amid Britney Spears controversy Eric Trump lawyer in New York attorney general's fraud case quits Republicans keep distance from 'Justice for J6' rally MORE (R-Fla.) over the weekend said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisDeSantis's new surgeon general opposes vaccine mandates People close to Trump say he 'wants back' in national spotlight: report Poll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field MORE (R) would be a strong contender for the Republican Party's 2024 presidential nomination should former President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE decide not to run again. 

Gaetz made the remarks Sunday during an interview on Fox News following an earlier appearance by DeSantis on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” in which the governor responded to reports of President BidenJoe BidenUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks GOP Rep. Cawthorn likens vaccine mandates to 'modern-day segregation' MORE’s administration potentially implementing travel restrictions around Florida due to the state's coronavirus cases. 

White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiReporters lodge complaint with White House over Biden-Johnson meeting access White House faces increased cries from allies on Haitian migrants Harris 'deeply troubled' by treatment of Haitian migrants MORE said Thursday that no final decisions had been made on imposing domestic travel restrictions. 

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DeSantis told Fox host Maria BartiromoMaria Sara BartiromoThe Memo: Fall in white population could add fuel to nativist fire A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate The Memo: Biden beats Trump again — this time in the Senate MORE that such a move by the Biden administration would be “unconstitutional” and a “political attack against Florida.” 

Gaetz later on in the day told Fox he was “proud” of DeSantis, adding that “the truth is that the Biden folks know that if Donald Trump is not the candidate in 2024, the leader of our movement will be Ron DeSantis.” 

"He is a strong potential presidential candidate in 2024, the Biden team knows that, and so they're trying to somehow cast aspersions on the Florida experience because you know what, throughout America, there's a lot of Florida envy right now,” the congressman added. 

Gaetz said that “people see that in Florida, businesses are opening, unemployment is dropping, home buying is increasing, and that type of prosperity is very attractive to people who are having to endure lockdowns in other parts of America.” 

DeSantis, who is up for reelection in 2022, has not publicly acknowledged if he is planning on launching a 2024 presidential campaign. 

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The Trump-endorsed governor has received backlash from some for pushing to reopen businesses and the state’s economy despite continued coronavirus infections and fatalities. 

As of Tuesday, Florida’s health department has recorded approximately 1.8 million total coronavirus infections, with more than 76,000 people hospitalized and more than 29,000 people dead as a result of the virus. 

DeSantis last week attacked the media for what he argued was a double standard with how large marches for social justice were covered as opposed to celebrations in Tampa following the Buccaneers' Super Bowl win. 

His remarks came following concerns from local health officials and Tampa's mayor over videos circulated on social media showing hundreds of fans without masks crowded together in streets and bars immediately after the game. 

DeSantis also faced criticism this month after a photo of him at the Super Bowl without a mask circulated on the internet, to which the GOP governor responded, "But how the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on? Come on. I had to watch the Bucs win."