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Image: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis waves as he speaks to police officers about protecting law and order at Prive catering hall on Feb. 20, 2023 in the Staten Island, N.Y.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis waves as he speaks to police officers about protecting law and order at Prive catering hall on Feb. 20, 2023 in the Staten Island, N.Y.Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Eyes on 2024: DeSantis hits the road

Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., continues to draw attention as a potential presidential candidate.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., may not have announced a presidential bid yet, but he’s hardly been subtle about his national ambitions, and continues to draw a significant amount of oxygen in this burgeoning race. 

He spent Presidents’ Day weekend speaking to law enforcement groups in New York City, Philadelphia and Chicago hosted by an affiliated non-profit. (Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker has been one of DeSantis’ chief antagonists in recent months, and the Republican’s visit to Chicago has become a flash-point in the tight mayoral race there.)

And DeSantis will travel to Alabama, California and Texas around the release of his book later this month, NBC News’ Natasha Korecki reports

These events, along with a spate of press conferences and legislative endorsements back home, continue to help him shore up his standing with the Republican base as he appears poised to enter the presidential race as a co-frontrunner. 

(Former Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who knows a little bit about trying to leverage lofty standing in the GOP into a challenge to Trump, told NBC News’ Henry J. Gomez on Friday that DeSantis is probably in a “better” spot than he was in 2016). 

And DeSantis’ moves have provoked pushback from Trump, who spent another day lambasting his former ally on his social media platform, this time calling him a “RINO in disguise” and trying to frame him as a member of the party establishment, and releasing his own crime plan Monday evening, after DeSantis’ events.  

In other campaign news: 

Something special: Voters in Virginia’s 4th Congressional District are heading to the polls Tuesday in a special election to replace the late Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin. Democratic State Sen. Jennifer McClellan is expected to prevail in the deep blue district.  

Finding the right lane: The New York Times explores whether New Hampshire GOP Gov. Chris Sununu can capture the “normal” lane if he decides to run for president. 

Hogan’s choice: Former Maryland GOP Gov. Larry Hogan, a vocal Trump critic, told “Meet the Press” on Sunday that he would consider not running for president if his candidacy could inadvertently help Trump win the Republican primary.  

Biden’s team and playbook: The Biden team is struggling to find a campaign manager for his expected re-election run, and he could announce his run as soon as April, NBC News’ Mike Memoli, Jonathan Allen, Carol E. Lee and Alex Seitz-Wald report. Biden’s team, meanwhile, is working to set up his 2024 playbook, which mirrors his 2020 strategy, as “competent beats crazy,” the New York Times reports. 

The last dance?: NBC News’ Natasha Korecki looks at the possibility that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot could fall short of even making a runoff in her re-election bid next week.  

Thinking about it: Republican Kari Lake, who lost last year’s race for governor, is moving closer to a Senate run with a potential June announcement, the Washington Post reports. Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb also tweeted over the weekend that he is “seriously considering” a Senate run. 

Trump troubles: The Washington Post’s recent Republican focus groups found a significant chunk hoping to vote for someone else to win the party’s 2024 presidential nomination. The Associated Press notes that Trump hasn’t visited Iowa as a 2024 candidate yet even as other rivals head to the state (Trump announced a handful of staff hires in Iowa this past weekend). And NBC News’ Daniel Barnes reports that lawyers representing Proud Boys accused of seditious conspiracy plan to subpoena Trump to testify