DeSantis’ Sputtering Presidential Campaign Looking To Gain Traction

Republican Presidential debate 2023

Ron DeSantis, the Republican Florida governor who is running for president, clashed on the issues of the day in a debate Thursday night in an Atlanta suburb with Gavin Newsom, the California Democratic governor, who is not.

For DeSantis, whose campaign has been floundering with high-level resignations among those running operations and the candidates’ less-than-impressive previous debate showings against fellow Republicans, this was a chance to regain traction.

“If hurling insults, distorting facts, and pandering to Americans’ worst instincts are the hallmarks of leadership, then … DeSantis emerged the winner in the debate with Newsom,” Time magazine bellowed, adding that the debate “seemed mainly designed to shore up DeSantis’s candidacy by allowing him to treat Fox viewers to a national takedown of a rising Democratic star.”

DeSantis and Newsom debated which state’s economies were doing better and who was doing more for the people who live there.

Newsom Hits on Florida Governor's Troubles

Newsom highlighted DeSantis’ struggles on the campaign trail.

“How's that going for you, Ron? You're down 41 points in your own home state,” Newsom said. “Neither of us will be the nominee for a party in 2024.”

The California governor also hit DeSantis with a jab that might foreshadow the next few months as the Republican presidential candidates really get personal with voters. Looming are the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 23, Feb. 8 caucuses in Nevada and the Virginia Islands and Feb. 24 primaries in South Carolina and Feb. 27 in Michigan.

“I don’t like the way you demean people,” Newsom told DeSantis Thursday night. “I don’t like the way you demean the LGBTQ community. I don’t like the way you demean and humiliate people you disagree with, Ron.”

Newsom’s charges echo what Vanity Fair said in looking into why DeSantis was not doing as well as once expected on the national stage. The magazine pointed to as an explanation the Florida governor’s hateful policies back home, which he refuses to stop talking about, and overwhelming awkwardness.”

Then there are the facts:

“DeSantis has a poor record in attempting to improve the lives of Floridians, especially those without seven-figure incomes. His governorship has mainly been about attacking ‘woke’ politics, undermining public education with one of the nation’s largest voucher programs, and demonizing immigrants,” Time reported.

“Florida has the stingiest unemployment benefits in the country, ranks toward the bottom of the 50 states in teachers’ salaries and per-pupil funding, and ranks 43rd in funding for long-term elder care, despite being a mecca for retirees. DeSantis opposed an increase of the state’s minimum wage when it was only $8.65 an hour.”

Looking for an Iowa Boost

Internally, one person said to be close to DeSantis commented on the state of his campaign to the Washington Post: “People increasingly think it’s over. It’s a dumpster fire.”

DeSantis has been looking to Iowa for his resurrection and has already visited all 99 counties before the mid-January caucuses.

Trump, who remains far ahead of DeSantis in the polls, said in Iowa Saturday that the Florida governor’s campaign was falling “like a very seriously wounded bird.”

The Post had reported the day before DeSantis' deputy campaign manager David Polyansky saying: “Team DeSantis leadership is not only optimistic about our pathway, but we are incredibly excited to take this effort to the next stage over the final 47 days. The Trump and Haley campaigns better buckle up for the ride ahead.”

Author: Richard Pretorius