(MIAMI) — As the Republican field for president takes shape around former President Donald Trump, with Gov. Ron DeSantis expected to launch his own campaign by the summer, a third Floridian is angling to possibly join the 2024 race.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is weighing a bid for the White House, recently telling ABC affiliate WMUR that he would be making a decision “shortly” on whether to run. Suarez has visited multiple early nominating states, including a visit last week to New Hampshire where he spoke at the Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, a staple venue for many mulling a presidential campaign.
There, Suarez highlighted his profile and backstory as the Hispanic son of a former Miami mayor and the Republican executive of a major American city, who was easily reelected in 2021. He touted his policy credentials on the economy and anti-crime measures and criticized the Biden administration for its Middle East and China policies.
As he takes some of the typical early steps before running for president, Suarez is previewing his case to occupy a potential third lane in a Republican primary that has so far largely featured Trump and DeSantis’ conservative styles. Amid a surge in Hispanic support for the GOP in some parts of the country, including Florida, Suarez offers a more centrist tone on migration and climate issues than his state’s governor and Trump, the party standard-bearer.
On climate change, he told CBS in July that “the problem for us is not theoretical … it’s real.”
He’s also made national headlines by inviting corporate heavyweights and startups alike, from asset managers to cryptocurrency traders, to make Miami their place of business.
In New Hampshire on April 18, Suarez said a relationship with the Hispanic community would be critical for the Republican nominee in 2024. More than 70% of the city of Miami is Hispanic, according to the latest census data.
Suarez suggested the GOP nominate “someone that can communicate and connect with Hispanics … [someone who can] help Republicans win elections for a generation, not just for one presidency.”
The nominee should have another quality, he said. “I’d want that person to have a positive — I’m going to stress that word — positive vision for the future. I think we’re getting a lot of negativity, a lot of divisiveness.”
Suarez won his second term as mayor with some 79% of the vote in Miami. A year later, DeSantis carried the Democratic stronghold of broader Miami-Dade County, becoming the first Republican gubernatorial candidate to win there in two decades. DeSantis had lost the county by about 20 points in 2018.
In New Hampshire, Suarez echoed other Republican criticism that DeSantis’ outreach in the party and initial public appearances across the country have been lackluster: “He seems to struggle with relationships, generally. I look people in the eye when I shake their hands.”
The mayor’s remarks came as a growing number of Florida congressional delegation members endorsed Trump for president, even before DeSantis has announced his own bid.
“[R]etail politics matters. The ability to go in particular places like Iowa, New Hampshire … is at times [about] meeting with just a handful of voters at once,” Matt Terrill, the managing partner at Firehouse Strategies, told ABC News.
Terrill said Trump was skilled in that art. “Trump, when he was the president at the time, would be inviting congressional members on Air Force One — many of those members from Florida — he’d be calling up members constantly playing golf with them.”
Appearing on Fox News on Thursday, Suarez declined any invitations to criticize Trump.
Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.