The congressman is reportedly running to assist Ron DeSantis, who would be considered the Republican frontrunner if the former president does not run
GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz plans to run for the presidency in 2024 if Donald Trump decides not to run.
The congressman made the announcement on Wednesday in a text message to the New York Post.
“I support Donald Trump for president. I’ve directly encouraged him to run and he gives me every indication he will,” he wrote. “If Trump doesn’t run, I’m sure I could defeat whatever remains of Joe Biden by 2024.”
Mr Gaetz’s associate, Joel Greenberg, pleaded guilty last week to six federal charges, admitting he had knowingly solicited and paid for sex from a minor. Several legal commentators have said that Mr Greenberg taking a plea deal may be a problem for Mr Gaetz, who has close connection to Greenberg’s dealings.
Mr Gaetz has not been charged with any crimes and has denied any wrongdoing.
A source speaking to the New York Post claims Mr Gaetz wants to run for president as a way to help out fellow Florida Republican, Governor Ron DeSantis. Mr DeSantis is considered by some political analysts to be the Republicans’ frontrunner if Mr Trump decides not to pursue a rematch with Mr Biden.
The source told the New York Post that “[Mr DeSantis] might like someone else on the debate stage who can torch his opponents and lay down ground cover for him.”
Mr Gaetz’s involvement in presidential politics come 2024 will likely be determined in part by the outcome of the ongoing federal investigation into his involvement with Greenberg.
If it is revealed he was involved in Greenberg’s criminal activities, it may do Mr DeSantis more harm than good to have the close association with Mr Gaetz.
One group opposed to Mr DeSantis, called Ron Be Gone, already began using the connection between the two lawmakers to try to undermine the governor’s 2022 re-election hopes.
Another apparent friend of Mr Gaetz who could be used against him should he run for president is Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose recent behavior has earned her condemnation from both parties – including her party leadership – and public scorn.
Both Mr Gaetz and Ms Greene have framed any criticism of them as attacks from the “Deep State” or biased media, as Mr Trump did when he ran for office.