The Ron DeSantis campaign is hauling in some big bucks. Axios ran the ‘scoop’ on Saturday. The donations totaled $2M in 48 hours last week.
What makes this interesting is that last Sunday, Senator Tim Scott suspended his presidential campaign. At that time, those that are supposed to be in the know about such things declared that Scott’s big donors would move to Nikki Haley. The media is doing yeoman’s work trying to convince readers that Nikki is having a moment. She has overtaken DeSantis in New Hampshire. She did well in the debates. Her resume gives her some unique experiences that play well in today’s events.
Trump, his supporters, and many in the media have been saying for a while now that the DeSantis campaign is dead in the water. Trump has been attacking him since before DeSantis launched his campaign, spending millions and millions of dollars to try and get him to leave the primary. Yet, DeSantis has remained steady. He holds the number two slot in polling. That has moved some in New Hampshire and everyone took notice. Let’s be honest, it has been a competition between DeSantis and Haley to determine who will take on Trump in the final battle for a while.
DeSantis isn’t going anywhere. The rumors of his demise are greatly exaggerated. We are less than sixty days out from the Iowa caucuses. DeSantis is getting some big donor love himself.
The fundraisers also show DeSantis — who’s pitching himself as the most viable Republican alternative to former President Trump — has managed to expand his high-dollar donor base after many of his donors had already maxed out, according to campaign finance records.
The five fundraisers were on DeSantis’ home turf in Florida where donors were asked to donate up to $11,600 — split between a leadership political action committee, a fund for the primary, and a fund for the general election.
One fundraiser in Vero Beach, FL asked for $10,000 for a photo and access to a reception, according to an invitation obtained by Axios.
A campaign spokesperson said that the “overwhelming majority” of the money raised was for the primary.
DeSantis still has a Super PAC supporting him, Never Back Down.
One of the big donors, Brad Martin, the vice chairman of FedEx and co-host of one of the fundraisers, said that DeSantis is the only candidate who can win and is best prepared when he does.
DeSantis has focused on winning the Iowa caucuses from the beginning. As is the popular saying in politics, there are three tickets out of Iowa and two tickets out of New Hampshire. At this point, I’m comfortable in saying that DeSantis has a very good shot at winning Iowa. Trump comes in first in all the polls in all the early states but his lead is soft. DeSantis is gaining momentum at the right time. He is doing interviews everywhere and his crowds at events are good.
I watched some of the Thanksgiving FAMILY Forum ’23 on Friday. Three candidates sat around a “Thanksgiving table” and were interviewed by Bob Vander Plaats, head of a conservative Christian group called The Family Leader. His is a sought-after endorsement in Iowa. DeSantis, Haley, and Vivek Ramaswamy participated. They all did well but DeSantis scored with the audience. His reason for voters to choose him over Trump was excellent. Vander Plaats asked why he wouldn’t just ‘wait his turn’ and run in 2028 since Trump is so far ahead in the polls.
“We’re a republic, it’s not about waiting your turn,” DeSantis told the crowd. “You have a right as a citizen to put your name out there and to fight for the country that you believe in.”
DeSantis then embarked on a critique of the former president, as well as President Biden, on issues ranging from policy failures to basic competence. DeSantis also questioned Trump’s electability and said that not being able to succeed himself would instantly make Trump an ineffectual lame duck.
“As a lame duck with poor personnel, and the distractions, it’s going to be hard for him to get this done,” DeSantis said. “My candidacy is lower risk, because we’ll run Biden ragged around this country, but high reward because you get a two-term conservative president who’s going to stand for your values and deliver for you for eight full years.”
Low risk, high reward. Big donors like that. The audience of about 850 people on a late Friday afternoon liked it, too.
Despite what he says, Ramaswamy is running for a cabinet position if Trump is the Republican candidate and wins the election in 2024. He is Trump’s spoiler in the race, I am convinced of that.
Both Ramaswamy and DeSantis spoke about their wives and difficulties in starting families. For the first time, both Vivek and DeSantis disclosed that their wives had miscarriages. Vivek’s wife also had difficulty in her second pregnancy and their son, now 4 years old, came and sat in Vivek’s lap for the rest of the event.
DeSantis has the not-Trump lane as the most populist politician in the race. Nikki is a more traditional Republican. I like them both. I think Nikki gets a bad rap as a neo-con by voters who are not very interested in foreign policy or national security issues. It’s her wheelhouse, though, and she was a shining star at the U.N. during the Trump administration. I’m ready for a female president and I want it to be a Republican woman. I don’t know that 2024 is Nikki’s time. My preference has been DeSantis since he jumped in, as I’ve written before. If anyone can topple Trump, I think it is him.
I’m waiting for the field to narrow just a little more. It will be interesting to see Trump, DeSantis, and Haley go at it. Or, if Trump continues to skip debates, DeSantis and Haley.