Ron DeSantis Is Getting Desperate For A Reset

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Ron DeSantis Is Getting Desperate For A Reset

Ron DeSantis was once seen as the likely heir to Donald Trump’s MAGA throne—possessing all the former president’s cruelty and penchant for culture war without the constant folly and looming legal vulnerability. But less than two months out from the first contest of the 2024 GOP primary, the Florida governor’s campaign is in chaos, and his prospects seem to be dimming. Not only does he trail Trump by an average of four dozen points in the polls—his rival, Nikki Haley, appears to have the “Never Trump” momentum in the second-place race. And, as NBC News reported Tuesday, his efforts to blunt Haley’s rise have only seemed to further highlight the fractures within his own campaign.

Indeed, according to the outlet, major allies of the Florida governor—Jeff Roe, a top consultant to the pro-DeSantis SuperPAC Never Back Down, and Scott Wagner, a longtime DeSantis associate—nearly got into a physical fight with one another last week while discussing how to fight Haley. The two were restrained. But the reported incident seemed to underscore the internal frustrations with the aimlessness of DeSantis’s increasingly quixotic bid.

“I’m a bit agitated these guys have spent all this money for no return,” a DeSantis donor told NBC News. “You don’t just keep throwing money at Radio Shack.”

With his presidential bid in danger, a desperate DeSantis is preparing to take the debate stage next week—not against his 2024 primary rivals, but against Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom. The Sean Hannity-hosted event is being billed as an argument over their respective approaches to state governance. But the two men are surely hoping the ordeal can help cement their political standings—Newsom as a potential 2028 standard-bearer (and maybe even a break-glass backup for Joe Biden in 2024), and DeSantis as the swaggering 2024 heavyweight he’d been considered until he actually entered the race.

But while DeSantis has cast the forum as an important proxy battle against Biden—“The stakes are really high for America,” he told Fox News Tuesday—it’s hard to see this as much more than a mojo-recovery mission for the Florida governor’s flagging campaign. It may allow him—and his similarly ambitious counterpart—to restock his file with more clips of him “owning” the opposition, the organizing principle of his reign in the Sunshine State. But it’s difficult to imagine that will do do much to improve his standing in the polls or sell him to donors as a viable alternative to the frontrunner.

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