Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to make his presidential campaign official next week.
After a strong re-election run in 2022 and using Florida as a proving ground for conservative priorities, his entry into the 2024 primary race seems like a foregone conclusion.
DeSantis nears launch of his presidential campaign, far from peak popularity, but ready to take on Trump
Although DeSantis remains the main challenger to former President Donald Trump, at least according to opinion polls, he has slipped in some polls in recent weeks.
I spoke to CNN’s Steve Contorno, who works in Florida and covers DeSantis, about what to expect from his campaign and what kind of candidate he could be.
You can read some of Contorno’s recent reports here.
Our email conversation can be read below.
Did DeSantis lose any momentum?
WOLF: More than any other Republican, DeSantis attracted national media scrutiny and discussion that he might be the best candidate to challenge Trump. Are he and his advisers worried that all that attention hasn’t translated into a stronger position in the GOP primary elections?
Outline: Inside DeSantis’ insular orbit, his mission is going largely according to plan. His aides spent the spring raising money, starting a super PAC, creating a national campaign, and recruiting supporters so that when he does enter the race, it won’t be a traditional Day One.
To them, DeSantis survived Trump’s onslaught of attacks without slipping, and once he gets in the race will change dramatically.
But campaigns ideally want to launch with momentum, and DeSantis has certainly lost a little control of the narrative since his decisive re-election victory. And people close to his campaign have expressed concern that DeSantis is entering a more precarious position than he was six months ago.
An announcement around Memorial Day weekend is toward the first of a timeline that the governor’s political campaign has targeted six months before the release was expected after the Florida legislative session. This suggests that DeSantis is responding to donors and supporters who are eager to see him enter the race and challenge Trump more directly.
Use Florida Gov. to Make an Aggressive and Conservative Campaign Argument
WOLF: You wrote about it, but I was hoping you could recap how DeSantis uses his tenure as governor to tailor a record of accomplishment for the Republican primary, because it’s my Unlike anything seen.
Outline: Armed with a perceived mandate from his historic re-election victory and GOP supremacy in both state legislatures, DeSantis used the spring to push an aggressively conservative agenda focused on issues that please Republican voters.
Governor Ron DeSantis’ Most Controversial Legislation in Florida
In essence, I build tenants of a platform from which they can launch. And thanks to his popularity within the party, Republican lawmakers follow his agenda.
These include a six-week abortion ban, the removal of permits to carry a weapon in public, a crackdown on illegal immigration, and life-changing new restrictions for transgender people.
Other priorities weren’t on many people’s radars earlier this year — including lowering the threshold for putting someone on death row and the death penalty for some child rapists — but they were on the cards for DeSantis as he traveled the country. quickly became the talk of the town.
All of this is a reminder that DeSantis, as sitting governor, has the ability to set an agenda, a potential advantage in a field of Republicans with “former” in their title.
Why is the Republican Party going to war with corporations?
WOLF: Your performance with Disney is, I think, one of the most important and interesting things happening in Republican politics at the moment, because it signals a change in the way Republicans are trying to appeal to business and the state. Let’s try. Capitalists United. What do you think about this new anti-corporate trend in the Republican Party?
Outline: This is something that has been heard a lot in CPAC (The Conservative Political Action Conference) and other corners of the GOP for a while now, but DeSantis is one of the first to bring this fight into the mainstream.
There is a belief among conservatives that progressives advance their causes through corporate boards rather than through elections, and that these corporations marginalize certain sectors in pursuit of this agenda.
DeSantis is the first to actually exercise government power to compel companies to avoid certain investment strategies, hiring and job retention efforts, or causes that the authority considers political.
Analysis | Disney shakes up DeSantis ahead of long-awaited announcement of White House candidacy
For example, he signed a law according to which no bank could refuse a loan to an arms manufacturer on principle alone.
Many members of the Republican Party are not comfortable with these moves and believe that using government authority to effectively punish companies for their political speech and the way they do business is contrary to the free market. However, DeSantis doesn’t care for these arguments.
Did it go too far to the right?
WOLF: Since your actions as governor are particularly appealing to Republicans, have you gone too far to be an attractive candidate in the general election? Is this something your campaign accepts?
Outline: Some potential donors and close allies of DeSantis have said publicly and privately that they believe the governor has moved too far to the right, particularly on guns and abortion, in a way that may offend the Republican base. rallying out would hurt their ability to support. Team.
But he presents himself as someone who isn’t afraid to take sides on divisive issues, and there was enormous pressure for him to take advantage of Republican supremacy to advance these conservative priorities.
What’s your way to victory?
WOLF: What will be DeSantis’ strategy as a candidate? Which states will you focus on in the early primaries? How would you position yourself?
Outline: As we previously reported several months ago, the DeSantis political campaign believes it has the money and name recognition to launch a national campaign from the ground up.
They are preparing for a long delegate fight against Trump that will drag through the first four nominating states, and a superPAC that supports them is already recruiting aid in states through Super Tuesday.
He has already said that if he enters the race, he will not consider Trump but Joe Biden as his rival. However, once she’s in the running and under fire from Trump (as well as Nikki Haley and others), that stance will be difficult to maintain.
How will Trump and DeSantis play? Is Ron DeSantis More Trumpist Than Donald Trump? 1:12
Wolf: Trump Vs. DeSantis has already been controversial since the primary. How do they compete behind the scenes?
Outline: Some of Trump’s top advisers once ran DeSantis’ political campaign, and many former Trump workers and donors are now in DeSantis’ camp, so the sarcasm is already clear.
Trump very publicly attacks DeSantis for his policies, personality, and political acumen, often reiterating that the governor owes his career to his early support of Trump.
DeSantis is trying to stay off the field for now, choosing to juxtapose the contrasts between his big, drama-free administration and political victory against Trump’s 2020 defeat, his leak-prone White House and fractious presidency is choosing
But in a move widely seen as an attempt to outwit Trump, DeSantis in Iowa made an unannounced trip to a barbecue in Des Moines, from where the former president declined to cancel because of (evil) threats. A rally was planned to be held before Time.
Will Trump voters accept it one day?
WOLF: Trump remains an important figure in the party. How is DeSantis trying not to alienate Trump supporters?
Outline: By the time he enters the race, he will have alienated a large group of Trump supporters who think DeSantis should wait his turn. This is somewhat inevitable.
As hard as he tries to appeal to “Never Trump” supporters, his team knows there are “Always Trump” voters out there, too.
But I’ve also talked to many Republicans who are open to alternatives or willing to move on from Trump, and that’s what all GOP contenders will be fighting for.
Can You Promote Effectively If You Don’t Look That Good?
WOLF: One criticism of DeSantis from his opponents is that he’s not the pickiest of candidates. What do you think of his ability to play petty politics and woo voters?
Outline: Donors, operatives, former staffers and former congressional aides have stories to share about their awkward interactions with DeSantis. You are curt, dismissive, and generally not engaging in personal settings.
Analysis | How bad is Ron DeSantis? He ranks at the level of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in the polls.
Former Representative David Jolly, a former Republican who represented DeSantis’ hometown, said DeSantis, as a member of the US House, did not show up to the Florida delegation’s bipartisan meetings, did not work with him on legislation of importance to the state. and tended to sit at the back of the room with headphones on.
But does it matter to the voters? He is well received at his events, some of which have been held in “Trump country”, he draws large crowds, and people have noted his improvements in connecting with voters.
Chris Egger, chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, who recently hosted DeSantis in his state, told me after the visit: “There was talk that he wasn’t good at retail and didn’t connect with people. It Exactly the opposite of mine. See.