Before Donald J. Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was a blandly likable, two term congressman from South Florida in a blue suit and Republican red tie. After Donald J. Trump, the Iraq War veteran with degrees from Yale University and Harvard Law School has become one of the most ardent and, now, successful acolytes to Make America Great Again. One prominent Republican campaign consultant warns in the Hill newspaper that, while on the surface Trump appears to have a lock on the Republican nomination in 2024, “When you dig into the numbers — his grip on the GOP nomination is getting more tenuous. It is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) who has all the momentum.” The real estate tycoon turned commander in chief still scores high approval ratings among Republican voters. In primary ballot polling match ups, however, DeSantis is steadily gaining ground. The Florida politician now leads the field of potential Trump rivals, including former Vice President Mike Pence.

DeSantis is also giving his former political benefactor a run for the campaign money. Poised to sail to re-election in November, the 43-year-old’s war chest has already swelled to over $100 million with backing from prominent Trump donors. All of which is leading Trump to point out early and often that, “I was very responsible for him getting elected.” As the saying goes, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” And DeSantis is an avid learner.