Polls began to appear which had been taken following DeSantis’ botched Twitter Spaces campaign announcement. Both Morning Consult and Big Village gave former President Trump a big 34-point lead, showing little to no bounce for the Florida Governor.
Speaking from Jacksonville, DeSantis appeared on Fox and Friends to criticize the recently passed deal on the debt ceiling between President Biden and congressional Republicans, claiming the country will continue to “careen towards bankruptcy” with this legislation.
Having finally officially announced his run for president, Ron DeSantis attempted to hit the reset button with a “campaign kickoff” event taking in twelve cities across three states. He began on Tuesday morning at a megachurch in Des Moines before heading to another church in Clive as he attempted to curry favour with the Iowa evangelical vote.
Not for the first time, DeSantis attempted to evoke Winston Churchill’s famous Second World War speech , saying “we will fight the woke in education, we will fight the woke in the corporations, we will fight the woke in the halls of Congress” in Des Moines. His wife, Casey DeSantis, appeared beside him during the trip sporting a leather jacket emblazoned with the phrase ‘where woke goes to die’ along with an outline of Florida.
Wednesday was also spent in Iowa, making no fewer than four stops across the state in Sioux City, Council Bluffs, Pella and finally finishing up with a rally in Cedar Rapids. In Cedar Rapids, DeSantis touted Florida’s new six-week abortion ban, a subject he had previously been studiously avoiding.
The governor moved on to New Hampshire on Thursday, campaigning in Salem, Laconia, Manchester and Rochester. He ran into a sticky patch with the journalists, asking a reporter “are you blind?” after said reporter asked him why he was not taking questions from voters (he didn’t take any whilst on stage at any of his four events, although he did talk to attendees one-on-one).
Additionally, he, in contrast with his Iowa stop, dodged questions about abortion, perhaps in an acknowledgement of the more liberal views of the Granite State and its moderate Republican governor Chris Sununu. He was also cautious around the subject of Trump, launching several veiled barbs in his direction without ever actually naming him.
The DeSantis campaign landed in South Carolina for the first time on Friday, knowing that this was an important chance to make a good impression in one of the early primary states. The latest poll from the Peach State showed Trump with a 25-point lead on DeSantis, with both Nikki Haley and Tim Scott closing in on second place. He made three stops in Bluffton, Lexington and Greenville, pitching his legislative record in Florida to prospective supporters and again launching several barbs against Trump without mentioning his name.
The campaign finally returned to Florida after whirlwind few days on the trail.
Now that DeSantis is more regularly on the campaign trail it is becoming easier to understand the current approach to the campaign. It is clear that he is leaning heavily into the “anti-woke” agenda, using his record in Florida as a bulletproof resume to prove his worth to voters. He is no longer completely avoiding President Trump but still seems reluctant to switch into full attack mode as of now. He also appears to be tailoring his message depending on who he talks to. Whether that can work in this heavily digitised aged remains to be seen.