(Washington) He is not yet a candidate, but is already hunting for sponsorships: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is in the American capital on Tuesday for a charm operation with Republicans who would be tempted to distance themselves from Donald Trump.

In the battle for the Republican nomination in the 2024 election, the 44-year-old former Navy officer represents – for now – the only credible threat to the former president.

Elected to lead Florida in 2018, he shone the spotlight on his state by transforming it into a laboratory of conservative ideas: access to weapons was facilitated there, access to abortion largely restricted.

However, Ron DeSantis has yet to prove himself on the national stage. And he has a serious gap with Donald Trump in the polls – to be taken with a grain of salt of course.

Traveling to Washington, the rising star of the hard right comes to try to catch up.

At the Heritage Foundation, at the end of the afternoon, he will participate in “an exchange” with the handful of elected officials who have already sponsored him for the presidential election of 2024. With the clearly stated objective of attracting others.

This candidacy is now only an open secret, but the governor resists the idea of ​​descending prematurely into the arena. He is also careful not to criticize Donald Trump’s record, especially highlighting their differences in style.

A former college baseball player, married with three children, this Catholic embodies authority and traditional family, and hopes to convince his peers that the tempestuous former president’s hold on the party is over.

Conveniently, the headquarters of the very conservative think tank where he speaks is only a few steps from the American Congress, where sponsorships are already flowing – signs of allegiance with immense symbolic significance, at a time when the conservatives are looking for a new direction.

A sign – if any – that the war between Trump and DeSantis has been declared?

Donald Trump, known for his undeniable political flair, teased his rival all day long by publishing press releases from other elected Republicans, who have already sworn loyalty to the former president.

On his Truth Social network, between two publications on collectible cards bearing his likeness, the billionaire mocked the recent setbacks of Ron DeSantis as governor.

Almost daily, he also reposts screenshots of said opinion polls, with a little “Wow!” “.

Despite his historic indictment, Donald Trump is currently surfing well above the fray of Republican candidates, hypothetical as declared.

The former tenant of the White House even boasts of having raised several million dollars after this sequence, which was the subject of dizzying media attention. The broom of limos en route to court and the former president waving to his fans are now part of the Republican’s campaign clips.

At the end of April, the former leader will reconnect with the crowds in New Hampshire, one of those decisive states for the Republican primaries.

Ron DeSantis was there on Friday.