Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is headed to New Hampshire Friday to talk to Granite State pols about his success in the Sunshine State and how it can be replicated across the U.S., sources on his political team tell NHJournal.
The plan is for the governor, who’s making his second trip to New Hampshire in less than a month, to meet with a “large number” of supporters. Details about the meeting have not been finalized.
DeSantis is expected to meet with New Hampshire lawmakers, some 50 of whom were on a list of endorsements the pro-DeSantis Never Back Down PAC released Tuesday. If he and his campaign are intimidated by Trump’s success, they’re not showing it. The governor has invited key donors to Miami for events on May 24 and 25, and multiple media sources say the expectation is a formal announcement in the next two weeks.
Some DeSantis supporters tell NHJournal they’re ready to rumble.
“I think it’s going to be the clash of the Titans,” former NHGOP vice chair Pamela Tucker told NHJournal. “It’s going to come down to DeSantis and Trump. There are other great candidates out there, but the bottom line is it’s going to be these two.”
In the latest RealClearPolitics polling average, former President Donald Trump has a huge 55 to 20 percent lead over DeSantis, with Mike Pence — who addressed a Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy event Tuesday night — in third place with just six percent support.
That hasn’t stopped a group of Pence supporters from launching a new super PAC, Committed to America, to boost a potential Pence candidacy. The PACs leadership includes GOP strategist Scott Reed, who was Bob Dole’s campaign manager in 1996; and Michael Ricci, comms director for Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Political pros say this is a sign Pence is all but certain to enter the race.
Meanwhile, DeSantis continues to take steps that indicate an announcement is imminent. His press secretary Bryan Griffin just announced he’s leaving his job in the governor’s office to “pursue other avenues of helping to deliver the governor’s success to our country.”
And Politico reported last week that DeSantis has “severed his connection to his long-standing state political committee and the tens of millions of dollars that it now controls, a step he needs to take ahead of a presidential campaign.” His move frees up that money, some $86 million, to be shifted to a pro-DeSantis super PAC and spent advancing his candidacy.
Rep. Leah Cushman (R-Weare), a former Trump supporter who’s been a leader in the New Hampshire legislature on issues like opposing vaccine mandates and giving Granite Staters access to ivermectin without a prescription, is now in DeSantis’ camp.
“Ron Desantis‘ performance as governor speaks volumes. He is not afraid to buck the woke mob. He rejected harmful and authoritarian COVID policies and kept his state open,” Cushman said Tuesday. “He defends medical freedom, defends the Constitution, and supports the rule of law. He has proven himself to be a level-headed, strong, conservative leader, and I believe he can beat Biden in the general election.”