A memo sent to donors on Saturday from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign takes aim at former President Donald Trump and brushes off other GOP contenders, even as his own polling figures decline and plateau.
The memo, aimed at reassuring donors and supporters about the governor’s position ahead of next Wednesday’s primary debate in California, urges them to “help echo the governor’s message” on social media throughout the debate. This comes as the latest campaign finance quarter wraps up on September 30.
The document hints at other GOP rivals who have been gaining ground on DeSantis in early polling. While it doesn’t name specific opponents, it states that the “fundamentals” of the primary race “have not changed since the last debate.”
DeSantis Memo Criticizes Trump, Downplays Rivals
James Uthmeier, DeSantis’ campaign manager, writes in the memo that DeSantis “is the only candidate that can beat both Joe Biden and Donald Trump,” and they are the only campaign set for the long haul in terms of resources and organization.
However, despite the campaign’s outward confidence, DeSantis has consistently lagged behind Trump by double digits in both national and state-level polls since the first debate. Other GOP contenders have chipped away at his second-place standing. A recent CNN-University of New Hampshire poll placed DeSantis fourth in an early presidential primary state.
Uthmeier goes on to claim that Trump has had a “disastrous stretch,” citing everything from Trump’s appearance at an Iowa vs. Iowa State college football game to a September 16 interview where he expressed openness to a compromise with Democrats on federal abortion restrictions.
The memo doesn’t specify whether DeSantis himself would directly confront the former president on the debate stage on September 27 in Simi Valley, California.
Steve Cheung, a spokesperson for Trump’s campaign, labeled the memo as “a desperate cry for help” from a candidate who’s faltering in the polls.
In recent weeks, DeSantis has ramped up his criticism of Trump on a range of issues, including abortion and his decision to skip the debates.
“He owes it to people to make the case and to defend his record. You can’t just not be showing up to these things,” DeSantis said in an interview.
Allies and supporters of DeSantis felt he had a strong showing at the first GOP debate in Milwaukee in August, but they admit he was often overshadowed by the ongoing exchanges between other candidates.
In a Friday interview with Iowa radio host Simon Conway, DeSantis mentioned that while debates are crucial, he doesn’t believe “most voters are making up their minds in September.” He added that decisions will likely be made as the new year progresses.
With information from CBS News