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This Week in Politics: Trump vs. DeSantis heats up and the clock is ticking for TikTok

A recap of political happenings this week in the Tampa Bay area.

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida — This week in politics, while the country is waiting to see if former President Donald Trump will be indicted by a New York grand jury, the former president is gearing up for a rally in Waco, Texas.

Trump is making his third bid for the White House and the campaign stop comes as the speculation about a Republican nomination race between him and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis heats up.

In an exclusive interview on Piers Morgan Uncensored last night, Gov. DeSantis added a little fuel to the fire, taking a tougher stance on Russia and Putin and beginning to outline differences between him and former President Trump, specifically when it comes to character and leadership styles.

“The way we run the government I think is no daily drama, focus on the big picture and put points on the board,” DeSantis said.

In the interview, DeSantis also said he thinks he can beat President Joe Biden in 2024, but did not yet say he is running.

Over the last several months DeSantis has built a national brand, as many Republicans have pointed to him as a potential 2024 presidential candidate. While he has not declared his candidacy yet, he’s done a lot of things that you’d expect of one.

He’s released a book on his “blueprint” for America, given speeches in states across the country and is making stops in early-voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire.   

The top dog in the race for the 2024 Republican nomination thinks DeSantis is running against him. Trump leveled a verbal attack on his Truth Social app, calling DeSantis an “average governor for a Republican," writing “we don't want Ron as our president.” He also took shots at his record on COVID, crime and education.

"Florida has been successful for many years long before I put Ron there...it’s amazing what ocean and sunshine will do!" Trump added.

We're just getting started.

As this race is taking shape, Trump and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley are at the top of the list on the Republican side.

DeSantis says his focus right now is on the ongoing Florida legislative session.

The Republican supermajority in each chamber is working to pass several things on the governor’s agenda — on Thursday the state Senate approved a bill to expand Florida’s school voucher program.

State lawmakers are also considering a proposed “Digital Bill of Rights,” which includes banning TikTok from government devices and through internet services at colleges, and public schools.

It also aims to protect personal data and as the governor's office puts it, protect Floridians from big tech surveillance.

We talked with a cybersecurity expert who says there's definitely a need for further protection and overall awareness about cybersecurity and the risks that are out there.

“What I would hope is that when the legislature finalizes what the Bill of Rights actually looks like, and then they implement it, they implement it in a way that's going to benefit everybody,” cybersecurity expert Keyaan Williams said. “One of the reasons that I like cybersecurity is because it's apolitical. It doesn't care about race, or religion, or gender or anything else,” Williams added.

Williams works with local students and businesses to educate them on cybersecurity risks.

“I think it would be wise and advantageous for Florida to have strong protections similar to what they have in Massachusetts and Virginia, and California because again, it's a great state, lots of people, but those people are at risk and we need them to be protected from their personal information as well as from the cybersecurity threats,” Williams explained.

“It's less about stopping people from entertainment and more about facilitating and entertainment in a way that brings no harm to the state or its policymaking, or anything else. That's of importance.”

The discussion in Florida comes as nearly half of U.S. states have moved to ban the app on state devices in some capacity.

The CEO of TikTok testified in front of Congress for the first time this week, as concerns over national security and the company's ties to China take center stage.

Congress is considering a bill that would outright ban the app’s use.

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