Ron DeSantis Looked Like a Rising Star in the GOP and Maybe the One To Beat Trump. He Is Now Losing Support…Last year, after midterm elections in which many candidates backed by Donald Trump lost while Gov. Ron DeSantis enjoyed a comfortable re-election victory, the Murdoch media empire — which includes Fox News, the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, and other outlets — began to favor DeSantis and oppose Trump.
A new report says that the Murdochs are now starting to sour on DeSantis.
“The conservative media kingmakers’ preferred candidate to knock off Donald Trump is not meeting expectations, and the family’s patriarch is getting tired of waiting,” a new story in Rolling Stone says, citing multiple sources within the Murdoch companies.
Rupert Murdoch, in discussions reported on by the magazine, has expressed doubts about DeSantis, especially since the Florida governor began formally running for president. He has specifically referenced DeSantis’ “awkward” behavior in public, and the failures so far of his “attempts to connect with the American voter.”
“[Rupert’s] understandable worry is that we may end up being stuck with Trump anyway,” a source with Fox News said in the story. “And DeSantis is underperforming. Anybody can see that…[and the Murdochs], they’re seeing it, too.”
This has also begun to be reflected in the news coverage of Murdoch’s news outlets, the Rolling Stone story said.
“Ron DeSantis was built up as the Trump-slayer. So if he’s not immediately leading Trump in the polls, it’s easy to see how that can easily be spun as a let-down,” Doug Heye, a former communications director at the Republican National Committee, told Rolling Stone. “There are a lot of people who are trying to write the obituary of a well-funded and popular figure in the party before the debates have even started. Ron was the designated dragon-slayer — and because he hasn’t slayed the dragon before the debates have begun, he’s being portrayed as a failure. And I think it’s too early for that.”
DeSantis is clearly counting on the debates to turn his campaign around when they start next month. And while Trump has threatened to sit out the first debate, DeSantis has been clear that he will debate whether Trump does or not.
“I’ll be there, regardless,” the governor said, per NBC News. “I hope everybody who is eligible comes. I think it is an important part of the process, and I look forward to being able to be on the stage and introducing our candidacy and our vision, and our leadership to a wide audience.”
The latest Morning Consult poll, which appeared earlier this week, had Trump leading with 56 percent support in the Republican contest. DeSantis sat in second place with just 17 percent, which ties his lowest level since the poll launched last year. Back in January, DeSantis had support in the 30s, but he appears to have failed to gain traction since he officially entered the race and voters started to get a closer look at him.
In the early months of the race, Trump frequently ripped DeSantis, to the point where he was weighing which derisive nickname to use for the Florida governor. DeSantis, however, spent months mostly holding his fire and not ripping Trump back. This strategy appears to have failed.
Also this week, DeSantis made clear that he’s not interested in being Trump’s running mate.
“I don’t think so. I’m not a No. 2 guy,” the Florida governor said on a radio show.
Such a pairing, while extremely unlikely as it is, would likely not be allowed anyway, since Trump and DeSantis are both residents of the same state, Florida, and constitutional scholars say the president and vice president cannot be from the same state. This was the reason why Dick Cheney switched his registration from Texas to Wyoming on the eve of being named George W. Bush’s vice presidential nominee in 2000.
Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.