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

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) Gaetz Ex-Rep. Katie Hill: 'Gross' for Gaetz to invoke my name House panel opens probe into Tom Reed over sexual misconduct allegations House Ethics Committee opens probe into Gaetz MORE (R-Fla.) over the weekend said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisButtigieg hopes cruises will return by mid-summer The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - World mourns the death of Prince Philip Trump hands Rubio coveted reelection endorsement in Florida MORE (R) would be a strong contender for the Republican Party's 2024 presidential nomination should former President TrumpDonald TrumpRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS US raises concerns about Iran's seriousness in nuclear talks 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 BidenBiden taps California workplace safety leader to head up OSHA Romney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS US mulling cash payments to help curb migration MORE’s administration potentially implementing travel restrictions around Florida due to the state's coronavirus cases. 

White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiMcConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS Five takeaways from Biden's first budget proposal Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists 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 BartiromoDominion lawyer: We haven't ruled out suing Trump, other media outlets What to know about Dominion's legal fight with Fox News Trump on possible Meghan 2024 presidential bid: 'I hope that happens' 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."