by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Mabinty Quarshie writes for the Washington Examiner about a major challenge for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ White House bid.
As Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) gears up for his long-awaited presidential campaign launch, he’s been increasing his visits to the early-voting nominating states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, meeting with voters, and attempting to soften his image among Republicans.
It’s a tacit acknowledgment of former President Donald Trump’s relentless attacks against DeSantis’s persona and public griping from fellow Republican lawmakers that the governor needs to beef up his people skills if he wants to defeat Trump in the battle for the GOP 2024 presidential nomination.
DeSantis has taken notice by holding impromptu meet-and-greets during an Iowa stop, in which 200 people came to hear him speak, and flipping burgers with Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-IA) and Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA) this month. Last week, DeSantis was literally kissing babies and visiting diners in New Hampshire. But will it be enough to help the governor convince GOP voters to select him as their next presidential nominee? It’s complicated. Strategists told the Washington Examiner that DeSantis’s uphill climb is tangled by Trump’s effectiveness as a third-time presidential candidate and his dominance over the Republican base.
“He’s never going to be as charismatic as Donald Trump, who can go up on stage and at a rally with thousands of people and hold court for 45 or 50 minutes without a script,” Matt Dole, a Republican political consultant based in Ohio, said of DeSantis. “That’s Donald Trump. That’s not Ron DeSantis. But DeSantis can bring what we all liked about Trump’s policies and governance and not have the back end, which is, you know, the Twitter and all of that.”
Although Trump consistently leads polling of Republican primary voters, DeSantis has also consistently finished in the second spot and, in some polls, has been shown to win over President Joe Biden in battleground states.