Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis topped former President Donald Trump in a straw poll for 2024 presidential candidates conducted at the annual Western Conservative Summit in Colorado over the weekend.
DeSantis earned 71 percent approval as a possible presidential candidate from the event’s attendees, whereas Trump netted 67 percent, according to Fox News.
The poll was organized by the Centennial Institute, Colorado Christian University’s think tank.
The governor also won last year’s straw poll at the summit, winning 74 percent to Trump’s 71 percent.
Other possible Republican presidential candidates included Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who took third place this year with 29 percent approval, and Trump administration official Ben Carson, who earned 24 percent. Former Trump press secretary and current GOP nominee for Arkansas governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders was next in line with 18 percent.
Neither Trump nor DeSantis has officially announced their candidacy for president in 2024, but Trump has repeatedly hinted that he plans to run again.
The theme of the two-day event was “Time to Saddle Up and Ride,” which organizers said is meant to encourage “conservatives to boldly and courageously confront our nation’s challenges.”
“We are proud to be Americans,” Centennial Institute Director Jeff Hunt said, according to The Washington Times. “We are proud of our country’s founding principles and we plan to lead our communities. We are Western conservatives, which means we don’t wait around for Washington, D.C., to solve our problems.”
“We solve our own problems,” he added.
Hunt said the event does not endorse or oppose any candidate or political party, and features speakers from both ends of the political spectrum. Among the speakers was former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who spoke about rising above divisive party politics.
“I want to talk to you about freedom, liberty, the pursuit of happiness,” Ms. Gabbard told the crowd. “All of these words are words that are synonymous with America, what it means to be an American. These are not Democrat words or Republican words. These principles are ones that belong to all of us and they are the foundational bricks that our country was built upon.”
“I served for eight years in Congress and came from there not too long ago and saw firsthand how too many Democrats and Republicans will talk a good game about freedom and civil liberties and claim to stand up for us and our rights, but really when it came time to vote, to protect our civil liberties and privacy they chose to stand with the power elite and against liberty,” she continued. “If we stand on the sidelines during this time of crisis we will lose the country we love.”