The Ron DeSantis Campaign Begins – The heads of Liberal press people, the Democratic Party, and apparently the Trump Campaign are exploding as Elon Musk, the closest thing we have to a renaissance man, co-hosts Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ unique official campaign announcement for the Republican Party’s presidential nominee on Twitter.
DeSantis joins a crowded field, dominated presently by former President Donald J. Trump, who is leading the Florida governor by an average of 30 points.
Although, it should be noted that aside from Trump, DeSantis is the only possible challenger for the Republican Party’s nomination who is polling in the double-digits—leagues ahead of where the other GOP candidates are.
Trump has also been dominant in the race thus far because it hasn’t really started yet. Sure, Trump made his official announcement last November and others have also gotten into the mix. But it’s way too early to write off DeSantis.
Personally, I’d have preferred it if DeSantis had announced earlier. DeSantis, however, has something that few other candidates do: a massive (and still growing) campaign war chest.
Of course, Trump has spent much time soaking up early campaign endorsements and generating donations.
So, too, has recent Republican Party primary entrant, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). Scott’s fellow South Carolinian and Trump Administration alumnus, Nikki Haley, has gotten her fair share of campaign donations.
Neither Haley nor Scott are serious contenders for the ring, though. They’re running to elevate their status in the public eye as well as to jockey for a position in the next Republican administration, either as a running-mate or as a cabinet-level official.
The GOP race is a two-sided affair, the other candidates’ presence on the debate stage notwithstanding. It is a battle between Trump and DeSantis. Only DeSantis has taken his massive war chest and married it to a brutally efficient campaign organization—that is not yet even an actual campaign.
Never Back Down
The likes of Ken Cuccinelli, the former Trump Administration Homeland Security chief, leads a DeSantis Super PAC, known as “Never Back Down,” that has been serving as an unofficial organization for the pending campaign.
Cuccinelli’s operation has been something to behold, actually.
Should DeSantis wrest control of the GOP from the orange-tinged clutches of Trump, the Cuccinelli-led Never Back Down Super PAC will be something worthy of emulation by both parties because it enjoys the shielding of Super PAC while serving in the same capacity as an actual presidential campaign. This has allowed for DeSantis, who until recently, was barred by Florida law from running for president while serving in Florida’s government, to have his political cake-and-eat-it.
Meanwhile, Never Back Down has $100 million and it intends to spend on hiring just shy of 3,000 field organizers in key battleground states, such as New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Iowa, by Labor Day. These organizers will be the tip of the spear that DeSantis intends to wield to break the hold that Trump has on the hearts-and-minds of the GOP voters.
Ron DeSantis cannot beat Trump with cheap tricks or zingy one-liners. He intends to defeat Trump with the best strategy possible: better organization. And that war chest that DeSantis has will be key to this methodical and disciplined strategy.
For the record, the Never Back Down PAC is expected to have an operating budget of around $200 million, with an additional $80 million to be transferred from an unused DeSantis state political account. The strategy that DeSantis is employing presently is the exact same strategy that Barack Obama deployed with great effect in his own campaign for president in 2008 and again in 2012.
Organization trumps all other concerns.
In fact, the DeSantis team is running an intensive, eight-day training course for their intensive door knocking campaign that they intends to wage in Iowa, the first primary state of the election. DeSantis’ team understands that nothing will generate positive momentum in what will be a difficult, come-from-behind campaign against a former Republican president, that a victory right out of the proverbial gate.
Yet, as the New York Times ominously notes, the DeSantis Iowa boot camp effort for organizers mirrors that of the “Camp Cruz” endeavor in Iowa during the 2016 Presidential Election…and we all know how that ended up for Ted Cruz.
Organization is critical in a battle. Logistics can win wars. But logistics alone cannot win anything. It requires leadership and a leader with charisma. Ron DeSantis is tough and disciplined but many people—donors, voters, and opponents—fixate on what they perceive to be a lack of charisma when compared to Donald Trump.
Trump vs. Ron DeSantis
While Trump certainly doesn’t have the kind of discipline or organization that DeSantis is building, the forty-fifth president has the connection with the voters.
The Trump Campaign believes this gives their candidate a qualitative edge that will translate, if Ron DeSantis cannot start connecting better with national voters than he has thus far, into a victory for the former president.
Although, a national campaign is not won by taking the bird’s eye view of the electorate. America is, after all, really 11 different nations in one. Even in this highly interconnected world, the United States is still divided among regions, ethnicities; between urban and rural, and rich and poor.
By breaking the electorate down and focusing on key states and pressing the flesh at the local level as opposed to nationalizing everything, DeSantis just might be able to overcome whatever personality deficits he may struggle with, marry his organization and discipline with a more nuanced and comprehensive campaign strategy, and overcome the challenge that Trump poses to him.
Ron DeSantis is the only real challenger on the Right to Trump. He has strangely amalgamated an unconventional approach, such as making his announcement for the presidency on Twitter, with a purely conventional methodology—ad buys, ground-pounding, loads of campaign consultants being hired.
It remains to be seen as to whether or not DeSantis can overcome the Trump wildfire in 2024. Nevertheless, it is admirable that he tries—and commendable that he’s putting so much thought, time, and effort into his strategy as opposed to just running to make a statement the way that Nikki Haley is.
Because of his approach and commitment, Ron DeSantis just might be the great underdog story of the 2024 Presidential Election: defying all odds, crushing the established order, and ushering in a new era of Right-wing politics that merges competence with conservatism.
A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.