Ron DeSantis privately tells people he will run for president in 2024 as he makes his first trip to the important campaign start state of Iowa on Friday.
Iowa would be a crucial test for the governor of Florida. The state will hold the first Republican nominating contest early next year, and if DeSantis could beat Donald Trump in his caucuses, it would show his strength and viability as a candidate.
DeSantis has made no official announcement about his plans for 2024, but he has privately indicated that he intends to run for president, two people with knowledge of his remarks told The Washington Post.
He has long been considered a presidential candidate for Republicans. His trip to Iowa comes three days before Trump travels to the state to campaign there in his first visit since announcing his 2024 candidacy. Nikki Haley, who also announced a presidential campaign, is amid a three-day campaign swing in Iowa.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will be in Iowa on Friday, a key early voting state in the Republican presidential primary
Trump has deep ties to the state – thanks to his two previous presidential campaigns – and is popular there.
But a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll released Friday shows his support is starting to erode: The percentage of Iowa Republicans who say they would “definitely” vote for him if he were the 2024 nominee has fallen more than 20 points since June 2021.
The poll also found that Trump and DeSantis are tied when it comes to approval in the state: 44% of voters approve of Trump and 42% approve of DeSantis. Both are about 20 points ahead of Haley.
DeSantis will participate in events in Des Moines and Davenport on Friday that will be hosted by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who said she will remain neutral in the GOP presidential primary.
Next, the governor of Florida will travel to Nevada on Saturday – another important state to vote early in the Republican presidential primary.
The trips — including one to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. last week — are part of DeSantis’ efforts to build his national profile, introduce himself to voters and connect with donors ahead of an expected presidential announcement.
DeSantis’ allies do not expect him to announce a presidential candidacy until after the Florida state legislative session ends in May.
But, already, a super PAC has been formed that could give his presidential campaign a boost. Never Back Down will be led by Ken Cuccinelli, who served as acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during the Trump administration, and Chris Jankowski, a GOP veteran.
All of DeSantis’ recent moves point to his presidential ambitions, and those close to him told the Post that the governor is talking about a campaign without any caveats that would suggest he’s still deciding.
Former President Donald Trump will travel to Iowa on Monday – his first visit to the state since announcing he will run again in 2024
Nikki Haley is in the middle of a three-day tour of Iowa – above she’s campaigning in Nevada, Iowa
Late last month, DeSantis hosted a private three-day retreat in Palm Beach — where Trump resides in Florida — with several prominent Republicans, many of whom supported the former president.
The event, billed as a celebration of his policies for the state he calls “Florida’s blueprint,” also served as a way to connect him with donors and party powerhouses.
He also recently published a book: The courage to be free: FloridaBlueprint for America’s Renewal. He presents his policies in Florida as a “blueprint” for the nation.
His events in Iowa and Nevada are tied to this book tour, which many see as a precursor to a presidential campaign.
Iowa, notorious for its retail politics, will also be a test of DeSantis’ campaign abilities.
The governor has faced chatter that he’s unnatural on the campaign trail, lacks charm and seems unwilling to engage in the hours of manipulation and chatter it takes to make campaign.
In Iowa, face-to-face time matters. The presidential candidates are expected to make multiple trips, visit nearly every county in the state, and conduct an extensive retail campaign.
This strategy gave an early boost to other Republicans in previous presidential primaries: Mike Huckabee in 2008, Rick Santorum in 2012 and Ted Cruz in 2016.
Left to right: Madison DeSantis, 6; first lady Casey DeSantis; Mason DeSantis, 4; and Governor Ron DeSantis hold their hands over their hearts as they recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., on Sunday, March 5, 2023
Trump lashed out at DeSantis for the trip, accusing him of trying to “kill ethanol” – a significant issue for Iowa farmers.
‘Why the hell (farmer’s love land!) would the wonderful people of the GREAT state of Iowa vote for Ron DeSanctimonious when he voted and fought to KILL ethanol (and definitely will s ‘he gets the chance)’, Trump wrote on his Truth Social site Thursday night.
“He will be in Iowa on Friday to beg for mercy. I’ve supported ethanol, FIRED NAFTA and made USMCA trade deals with China!’
In Congress in 2017, DeSantis co-sponsored legislation that would have immediately ended the Renewable Fuels Standard, a mandate that requires renewable fuel to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply.
Cornstarch ethanol meets one of these requirements. Iowa produces more corn than any other state.
Trump will be in Davenport on Monday to present his education plan and answer questions from voters. It is his first visit to the state since he announced he was running for president again.
He clearly sees DeSantis as a threat — giving him the derogatory nickname Ron DeSanctimonious and accusing him of wanting to cut Medicare and Social Security benefits.
DeSantis will visit the Rhythm City Casino Resort in Davenport, then head to the Iowa State Fairgrounds, a traditional destination for presidential candidates.
He will also make a stop in Des Moines between his public events to meet with a small group of Republican lawmakers.
In Las Vegas on Saturday, DeSantis will visit Stoney’s Rockin’ Country nightclub with Adam Laxalt, a longtime friend who was the GOP nominee for Nevada Senate last year.