Was Ron DeSantis just too quiet during the GOP debate? Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis left Wednesday night’s Republican debate relatively unharmed.
For a politician looking to make a breakthrough performance, that’s not necessarily good news.
Gov. DeSantis was only attacked twice on the night, once each by Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy. The latter, by contrast, was the subject of 11 jibes from his rivals.
A quiet night would arguably be what a popular Gov. DeSantis would want. However, his popularity has plummeted. In the space of six months, the Florida Governor has wilted as Donald Trump’s support has grown.
Nowadays, DeSantis struggles to hold on to his title of “best of the rest.”
It’s Not All Doom And Gloom for Ron DeSantis
Despite his position in the center of the stage, Gov. DeSantis took a back seat while Haley, Mike Pence and Chris Christie all piled on the fresh-faced Ramaswamy.
It allowed him to enjoy a mistake-free night, and his policies appeared sensible compared to Ramaswamy’s denial of climate change, for example.
“While other candidates attacked each other, Gov. DeSantis stayed focused on the American people and fighting for their future with a clear vision to fix our economy, secure the border, empower parents, back law enforcement and stand up to the leftist elite and the D.C. establishment,” DeSantis campaign manager James Uthmeier said in a statement.
DeSantis’ own actions are unlikely to deter supporters away from him. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and Rep. Chip Roy maintained their confidence in his campaign, with the former citing Ramaswamy’s “antagonistic” approach as the reason for DeSantis’ lack of attention.
Except for Pence, DeSantis was the most well-known candidate before the Milwaukee debate, so perhaps he felt less need to introduce himself to potential voters than his counterparts.
That said, when you’re in a nomination race with Donald Trump, you need to make noise rather than observe from the sidelines.
It Could Be (And Has Been) A Lot Better
Six months ago, Gov. DeSantis was trailing former president Trump by a handful of points among Republicans. Vivek Ramaswamy, on the other hand, was barely known.
Fast forward to August 2023, and DeSantis’ campaign has gone backwards. In the absence of Trump, DeSantis failed to make a compelling case as to why he should be the party’s nominee in 2024. It was not that he came across as a bad candidate, rather that he just didn’t come across as a candidate at all.
When Gov. DeSantis was surging in the polls, little was known about his competitors not called “Donald Trump.” These days, he leads a pack of eight all trying to take voters from each other in their charge to challenge the Republican frontrunner.
Quite simply, if Wednesday was an indication of how each candidate is performing, Ron DeSantis is in damage limitation mode. And that can’t be a good thing.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
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