TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — There are now three Florida men vying for the White House in 2024.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez officially jumped in Thursday morning after filing paperwork on Wednesday. The Republican's candidacy is a head-scratcher for some — as he fits the definition of a longshot.
The announcement came via a literal ad about running. In the nearly two-minute online spot, Suarez said he wanted the White House to benefit future generations.
"My dad taught me that you get to choose your battles, and I am choosing the biggest one of my life," he said. "I'm going to run for president. I'm going to run for your children and mine…"
As the ad went live, so did the candidate. Suarez told Good Morning America he could unify the country and suggested former President Donald Trump's handling of classified documents was wrong.
"It's not what I would have done," said the mayor. "I would have turned over the documents — but if I were the former vice president and the current president, I wouldn't have stored classified documents in my garage either."
Suarez is a controversial figure in Republican politics. Not only is he involved in an FBI investigation for payments from a developer, but in 2018 he voted for Democrat Andrew Gillum over Ron DeSantis. He didn't support Trump in 2016 or 2020. He's also drawn fire for crossing swords with the governor over COVID-19. Suarez wanted a mask order.
"I've tried to reach him on multiple occasions to tell him to give us the opportunity," Suarez told Face the Nation in 2021. "Not just here at the city, but in the county, to be able to institute things that we think are common sense, that we think are backed up by science."
News of his candidacy drew crickets from the DeSantis and Trump campaigns. However, U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez, R-Fla., a Trump supporter, called Suarez a "fraud" on Fox News.
"He's a ceremonial mayor of the city of Miami," Giménez said. "He has very, very little power. He got elected by a total of 20,000 people."
Political pundits have said Suarez brings youth and a Hispanic voice to a large list of GOP nominees. Some, however, think the mayor is really in it for a vice president or a Cabinet pick. Professor Sean Foreman of Barry University thinks Suarez wants the White House — just not yet.
"That's probably the move for Francis Suarez," Foreman said. "It's to raise his national profile now and perhaps run again in 2028 or 2032. Running for president is an enormous task in the United States. The fact that you have to travel the country and meet with so many different voters and raise money. It doesn't just happen over a few months."
In the meantime, the addition of Suarez to an already crowded field likely further splits the vote. That will benefit one Florida man in particular, the former president who still leads in early polling.
Suarez was expected to give a formal announcement speech Thursday evening in California. He was scheduled to speak at 6 p.m. Pacific time in the Reagan Presidential Library.