The old saw about running for president in New Hampshire is that Granite Staters won’t be ready to vote for you until they have shaken your hand — twice.

Most Granite State political professionals dismiss that thinking as an obsolete cliche. But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he relies on retail politics in New Hamshire to help turn around his struggling campaign.

During an interview with New Hampshire radio talk host Jack Heath that aired Thursday, DeSantis touted his time on the ground in the Granite State a day before another weekend swing across the state.

“We did a four-day swing at the end of July, beginning of August,” DeSantis said. “We were doing house parties. We did a town hall on WMUR. I spoke at a Rotary club. You’ve got to do that over and over, over the next six months. And I’m committed to doing that.

“I want to get in front of as many New Hampshire voters as I can. And we found that when people get to see me, they say, “Oh man, you know, you’re really good. You’re nothing like what the media says about you.’”

DeSantis is scheduled to speak at the Nashua GOP’s Steak Out fundraiser dinner Friday evening, then make stops in Manchester and Newport on Saturday. And, his campaign allies are quick to note the Never Back Down PAC is running plenty of ads and sending mail to get DeSantis’ bio in front of potential primary voters.

But the Ron DeSantis that GOP activists see is the one making headlines from leaked memos and lagging poll numbers. And they wonder if retail politics is enough to reverse those trends.

For example, news of a debate strategy memo from strategists at the Never Back Down PAC that urged DeSantis to defend Donald Trump and “Hammer Vivek Ramaswamy,” among other things.

“From challenging Trump to ‘hammering’ Vivek, that’s the DeSantis campaign right there,” one New Hampshire GOP insider commented after seeing the leaked memo.

On defending Trump, the memo suggested he should step in when, as expected, former Gov. Chris Christie goes after the former president. The strategists’ suggested response?

“Trump isn’t here, so let’s just leave him alone. He’s too weak to defend himself here. We’re all running against him. I don’t think we want to join forces with someone on this stage who’s auditioning for a show on MSNBC.”

The Ramaswamy campaign sent NHJournal a statement from campaign spokesperson Tricia McLaughlin in response to the memo’s proposed tactics.

“Vivek’s job on August 23 is to introduce himself and his vision to the American people. These boring, canned attack lines from a robotic candidate don’t change that. If DeSantis struggles to use a spoon, I can’t imagine he is particularly agile with a sledgehammer.”

Some veteran political observers say that as embarrassing as the memo story is, the voters largely ignore news coverage about campaign struggles and staff resets, etc. What matters isn’t the memo; it’s the debate.

In a recent podcast interview, GOP strategist Mike Murphy said the campaign turmoil is “yet another process trainwreck along with candidate tone that has crippled DeSantis in the national narrative. He’s still selling some ‘culture-war’ tickets in Iowa, so we’ll see. Everything right now is a little premature.”

The DeSantis campaign and its allies insist the campaign is on course, and in the wake of the memo leak, it points to internal polls showing Trump’s strength fading. According to poll data leaked along with the memo Thursday, Trump’s favorables among Granite State GOP primary voters have fallen from 73 percent in March to 58 percent today. DeSantis’ favorables have also fallen, from 79 to 60 percent in that same period.

And unlike other polls showing Trump with a 40-point lead in New Hampshire, this poll has Trump vs. DeSantis in a head-to-head at 44 to 34 percent, a 10-point Trump lead.

Greg Moore of Americans for Prosperity in New Hampshire said the numbers from the DeSantis campaign are “in the ballpark” of what he is seeing from the New Hampshire electorate.

“Trump’s number is closer [to the rest of the field] than people think. DeSantis is fading, and Vivek has little ‘mo’ as opposed to ‘big mo,’” a reference to a phrase used by George H.W. Bush during his unsuccessful 1980 presidential bid.

“But that ‘little mo’ could get very big in one debate,” Moore noted.

That same poll showed Ramaswamy surging from just one percent in March to 11 percent today, in third place behind Trump (34 percent) and DeSantis (16 percent). It is by far the biggest positive movement in the multi-candidate field. No other candidate is in double digits.

DeSantis told Heath the message he is bringing New Hampshire this weekend is, “Our country is in decline across a variety of fronts, including the economy, military, and our culture. And the reason I’m running for president is to reverse this decline and get this country on a better path.

“We’ve developed a culture of losing in this party,” DeSantis added. “We can turn it around, but the time for excuses is over.”