Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. The early stages of the 2024 race have begun. And DeSantis is off to a shaky start: he is stumbling and Trump is attacking.
As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis prepares to jump into the presidential race, a growing number of supporters say he is sorely in need of a change in strategy if he’s to have any chance of defeating Donald Trump for the GOP nomination.
They point to his drop in the polls, his lack of outreach to potential supporters who have instead backed Trump and the policy issues he has focused on. He’s spending his time battling one of the largest employers in the state, moving to the right on abortion and cleaning up verbal missteps on the war in Ukraine.
But inside DeSantis world, there’s no plan for a course correction on messaging or a broad strategy that puts culture wars front and center.
One U.K. business figure said DeSantis “looked bored” and “stared at his feet” as he met with titans of British industry in an event co-hosted by Lloyd’s of London — the world’s largest insurance marketplace.
“He had been to five different countries in five days and he definitely looked spent, but his message wasn’t presidential,” they told POLITICO. “He was horrendous.”
A second business figure who was in the room said it was a “low-wattage” performance and that “nobody in the room was left thinking, ‘this man’s going places’.”
Never Back Down, the pro-DeSantis group, is now running an ad online attacking Haley, has polled Twitter users on a new nickname for her, and accused her in a tweet of “trying really hard to audition” to be Trump’s vice presidential pick.
The move suggested a shifting dynamic in the contest: With DeSantis falling further behind Trump in national and early-state surveys, his allied super PAC is trying to ensure that the primary remains a two-way race and that other candidates vying to be the Trump alternative do not gain traction.
“This is the DeSantis team acknowledging that he is closer to the field than he is to President Trump,” said Justin Clark, a Republican strategist who was Trump’s 2020 deputy campaign manager but who isn’t involved in a 2024 presidential campaign.