Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s donors and supporters are beginning to question if the potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate should run in the next election cycle — a bid that would put him against former President Donald Trump — or wait until 2028, according to reports.
According to a report from NBC News, donors and supporters of DeSantis are having second thoughts on the prospect of the governor’s potential presidential bid. Per the report, one main issue seems to be the governor’s ability to take Trump — who has been criticizing the governor for months — head on.
Per the report:
At a Sunday luncheon following the annual Red Cross ball in Palm Beach, Florida, a group of 16 prominent Republicans, described by one attendee as a mix of DeSantis backers and Trump “skeptics,” discussed misgivings about the governor’s standing for the future if he tussles with the former president.
One attendee told the outlet that these individuals believe that DeSantis’s future is better secured without facing Trump directly this election cycle.
“He will get scarred up” by the former president, according to the attendee.
The report also highlighted the newfound hesitancy among some of DeSantis’s backers, including what NBC News described as “conservative billionaire shipping goods magnate Richard Uihlein” and his wife, who gave roughly half a million in contributions to DeSantis’s reelection campaign. NBC News, citing someone “familiar with the strategy” around their spending, said, “The brakes are pumped,” in part, due to DeSantis’s waning status in recent surveys. And, indeed, Trump has continued to grow in survey after survey, even garnering 50 percent or more as DeSantis appears to lose momentum, particularly following the news of Trump’s forthcoming indictment and what some conservatives view as the governor’s insufficient response. On Monday, two days after Trump initially announced his suspicion of a coming arrest, DeSantis told reporters that his administration is “not going to be involved” with a “manufactured circus by some Soros [backed] DA,” essentially dismissing it as a nonissue.
Meanwhile, recent polls demonstrate a boost for Trump as DeSantis’s figures drop or remain stagnant. For instance, a Harvard/Harris survey released this week found Trump leading the hypothetical 2024 GOP primary field by 26 points over DeSantis. This week’s Morning Consult survey told a similar story, with Trump expanding his lead over DeSantis to +28 percent in the last week alone. DeSantis, however, has infamously said that he does not base his governing or approach on fickle polls.
NBC News continued, noting it spoke with several GOP strategists and donors, inquiring if they believe it is possible for DeSantis to make a comeback.
One individual described as a “Republican campaign operative who speaks to donors regularly” said it is possible DeSantis has peaked and added that the governor’s response to Trump’s possible indictment “was really telling about how far behind the eight-ball” he is.
“DeSantis is doing a book tour. He’s barnstorming the country, and his polls are going down,” another strategist stated, noting that Trump, who is potentially set to be indicted, is going up in the polls.
“It’s just not a good look for DeSantis,” the individual added.
Another donor told the outlet he does not believe DeSantis can “ignore” Trump too much longer. However, DeSantis, who routinely avoids overtly criticizing Trump publicly, did highlight some issues with Trump during his recent interview with Piers Morgan, criticizing aspects of his leadership style but continuing to dismiss Trump’s critiques as “noise” as the former president has upped his attacks.
“Now that Ron DeSanctimonious is finally admitting he’s in the Race by beginning to fight back, and now that his Polls have crashed so he has no other choice, let me explain the facts,” Trump began in a Truth Social thread this week:
DeSantis, however, has yet to announce a presidential bid, and according to rumors, he would not do so until Florida’s legislative session is over.
Via NBC News:
“The pending candidacy of Ron DeSantis is absolutely keeping people out,” said one Republican strategist who, like others, requested anonymity to speak candidly about presidential contenders. If DeSantis gets in and shows himself to be a strong candidate, “that probably holds.”
“And if he’s not successful — and that’s an arbitrary assessment to some degree; what’s successful? — then you could see others continue to look at it or eventually get in the race,” this person added.
While some still have positive feelings about the prospect of a DeSantis 2024 bid, Republican advisers are skeptical.
“We were always convinced that DeSantis was going to be very disciplined,” one said. “Disciplined, disciplined, disciplined.”
“And he kind of proved this week that he’s not. This was a guy who would not talk about Trump, and here he is taking shots nearly a year before Republicans start actually voting,” the individual added, as other operatives expressed that DeSantis missed a prime opportunity after Trump announced what has appeared to be a forthcoming arrest.
“What DeSantis should have done is immediately respond and say, ‘Under no circumstances will the free state of Florida allow this political prosecution to take place,’” one operative told the outlet.
“What that would have done is present DeSantis as the alpha and Trump as the beta. He could have set himself up to look like the protector of Trump, which would have driven Trump crazy,” the individual added.
DeSantis has continued to remain coy about his political future but told Piers Morgan during this week’s interview that he is technically not running against anybody “quite yet.”
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