DeSantis Makes the Rounds in Iowa, Fueling Further Speculation About Presidential Bid
In what many call the ‘worst-kept secret’ in Republican politics, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis traveled to the critical primary state of Iowa this week to explore a potential Presidential bid in 2024.
DeSantis’ visit to Iowa came after he made the rounds in New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, causing controversy in the Chicago mayoral race after he visited the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) union.
DeSantis visited an influential evangelical leader who leads a socially conservative group in Iowa. While the two most discussed policy issues and reportedly veered away from discussing DeSantis’ Presidential ambitions, he said that DeSantis would be a ‘front-runner’ in the race beside former President Donald Trump.
“Right now, Trump is the front-runner,” said Bob Vander Plaats, CEO of The Family Leader. “And if and when DeSantis gets in, he’ll be the front-runner of all those other than Trump.”
🚨DeSantis meets with influential Iowa conservative @bobvanderplaats amidst continued signs that @RonDeSantisFL is laying the groundwork for a 2024 campaign.#DeSantis2024 https://t.co/Xl8kFsGQDJ
— Cryptid Politics 🇺🇸 (@CryptidPolitics) February 24, 2023
“It’s the worst-kept secret that he would at least be considering a run,” the Iowa conservative said. “And there are many that are encouraging him to run.”
While DeSantis faces an uphill battle to surpass Trump in the primary due to name recognition and Trump’s fiercely loyal base, a top conservative data company said that his proven track record of success in Florida could sway Republican voters who have had two underwhelming election cycles in 2020 and 2022.
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“Gov. DeSantis took what was the quintessential swing state, turned it into a solidly red state, and won non-Cuban Hispanics — all while governing as a conservative,” said Chris Wilson, who conducted the WPA survey. “If you’re a Republican primary voter who cares about winning elections and policy battles, his record is very appealing to you.”
“DeSantis took a swing state, turned it solid red and won non-Cuban Hispanics – all while governing as a conservative. If you’re a GOP primary voter who cares about winning elections and policy battles, his record is very appealing.”
— WPA Intelligence (@WPAIntel) February 24, 2023
DeSantis’ visits to early primary states such as Iowa will help him build momentum early in the primary, though he’s already built an impressive profile through his electoral success in Florida while being unapologetically conservative on hot-button social issues.
Some have speculated that he will draw large crowds in another early primary state, New Hampshire.
“I suspect the first time he’s in New Hampshire, you’re going to be hard pressed to find a building big enough to fit everyone interested in seeing him,” said Jim Merrill, a New Hampshire-based Republican strategist.
Already, polling has indicated that DeSantis would win almost any many delegates as Trump in New Hampshire.
To qualify for any delegates in New Hampshire, candidates must win at least 10% of the vote. If the actual vote reflected the recent NH polling, Sununu wins just enough support to win delegates, along with Trump and DeSantis. pic.twitter.com/1HyF7qxPqP
— Logan Phillips (@LoganR2WH) February 22, 2023
A common feature of primaries in early-voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire includes so-called ‘retail politics,’ where a candidate attends small events or venues for optics and to attract small amounts of voters. One conservative strategist said that DeSantis would have to utilize that strategy as well to win in early voting primary states.
“Ron DeSantis is going to have to turn around and nail down retail politics,” said Dave Wilson, president of the Palmetto Family Council in South Carolina. “Everywhere he goes, he’s going to have a following of people who want to clamor to meet him. But they also want to start to hear from him at the restaurants, hear him speak at an event, go to a town hall, visit their churches, those kinds of things where the retail politics of presidential preference come into play.”
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