Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday he will seek the Republican Party nomination for next year's U.S. presidential election, with many recent polls showing the prominent conservative trailing former President Donald Trump.
DeSantis, 44, is regarded as a top alternative to the scandal-tainted Trump, but the second-term governor has struggled to rally support in the run-up to his campaign launch.
"I'm running for president to lead our great American comeback," DeSantis said in the announcement made via a video posted to Twitter.
As he builds a national profile, the governor's moves in his state have sparked controversy. His authorization of a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and restrictions on school instruction about the diversity of sexual orientation have drawn concern from other Republicans as well as Walt Disney Co., a major employer in Florida.
DeSantis also came under fire in March after he described the continued conflict in Ukraine triggered by Russia's invasion last year as "territorial disputes."
According to major poll tracking website Real Clear Politics, the former House of Representatives member holds second place in the party's nomination race in the latest-available data, outpacing Nikki Haley, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and former Vice President Mike Pence, among others.
But Trump, 76, rates as an approximately 55 percent front-runner, the website shows, and holds around a 34 percentage point lead over DeSantis.
DeSantis was once a vocal supporter of Trump, and the then U.S. president's endorsement helped him become governor of Florida in 2019. But he and Trump are now increasingly at odds.
Trump, who was charged in April with 34 felony counts linked to his alleged role in a hush money payment to a porn star before the 2016 presidential election, has sharpened his attacks on the governor.