DeSantis says support for the Iowa governor could help him stop Trump — and calls his rivals spoilers
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Top advisers are outlining a difficult path to the Republican presidential nomination, which can only succeed by getting rejected first Former President Donald Trump ‘Big win’ in Iowa, where DeSantis campaign promises to leverage ‘broad statewide political process’ His newest major supporter, Gov. Kim Reynolds.
The memo, which was distributed late Monday to the campaign’s national donor network and to another group of uncommitted billionaires known as the American Opportunity Coalition, says other Republican candidates, including the former ambassador to the United Nations nikki haley, They are at best spoilers.
Instead of cementing his position as a major challenger to Trump as many expected When he entered the raceDeSantis is She sits in a distant second place in Iowa with Haley, which is receiving more attention from donors and voters as the third Republican Party debate approaches on Wednesday. The memo, shared with The Associated Press, pointed to Reynolds’ surprise endorsement — a rarity for Iowa governors before the caucuses — as evidence that DeSantis could cut into Trump’s margins.
“Everyone can universally agree that if Trump wins a large majority in Iowa, it will create media and political momentum for his candidacy that will be difficult to stop heading to New Hampshire,” said the memo, penned by campaign manager James Othmeyer and deputy director David Othmeyer. Polyansky and Senior Advisor Ryan Tyson.
“In addition, a Trump loss or even a close battle in the Hawkeye State would expose his political weaknesses and inspire Republican voters across the country who are either in the ‘Not for Trump’ or ‘Think Trump and Others’ camp,” the advisers wrote.
The memo says that Haley and others “are, at best, simply playing spoilsport — dramatically increasing the odds of Trump’s nomination.”
Advisers to Haley and other campaigns reject DeSantis as the main alternative to Trump. It is not yet clear how much Reynolds’ endorsement will ultimately help him with less than 70 days remaining before the January 15 caucuses.
DeSantis and Reynolds were greeted Monday night by a cheering crowd of 700 people, a larger crowd than usual for him, inside a rustic-themed event center in downtown Des Moines. A country band warmed up the audience before Reynolds took to the stage.
“We can turn this country around. But if we don’t get this next election right, we’re not going to take this country back,” Reynolds told the crowd before welcoming DeSantis to the stage with a hug. “We need someone who puts this country first and not themselves. That leader is Ron DeSantis.
But one would-be caucus member who previously attended a Trump event suggested — as did the former president — that Reynolds had been disloyal.
“The reason Kim Reynolds was elected is because Trump endorsed her,” said Ira Rovell, a business consultant from Fairfield, Iowa, who likes Trump but has not committed to a candidate. “I wouldn’t call her a rat or anything. But she could have shown some loyalty by staying neutral. I think she’s making a mistake.”
DeSantis may be relying more on the 64-year-old Reynolds’ popularity within the state’s conservative base and her powers of political persuasion. Reynolds also presents an upbeat public persona that can complement DeSantis’ sometimes tough personality.
“I learned very quickly how to deploy political power and how to play the big game — and how to win,” said John Steinman, a Republican strategist who ran caucus campaigns in Iowa. “But the biggest potential difference is that she is willing to persuade. She will reach out enthusiastically to people she knows are inclined to listen to her.
A Des Moines Register poll released last week showed Haley tied with DeSantis for second place in Iowa, which holds the nation’s first Republican caucus on January 15. Both candidates received 16%. That means 27 percentage points behind Trump, whose support has been virtually unchanged since August despite several criminal indictments and fears that he could lose again to President Joe Biden.
The poll showed that Trump supporters are more likely to say they have made up their mind than supporters of other candidates.
In her own memo, Haley’s campaign manager, Betsy Ankeny, on Monday described the Iowa contest as a “hot race” between DeSantis and Haley, while ignoring Trump’s massive lead.
“The Iowa caucuses will be held in a little over two months. The New Hampshire primary takes place just 8 days later. Nikki Haley is the only candidate who can do a good job at both, Anke wrote. “Even if DeSantis does well in Iowa, which is a big ‘if’ given his current decline, he’s so weak in New Hampshire and South Carolina that it doesn’t matter. He has no endgame.”
DeSantis’ new memo points to the political infrastructure he and his super PAC allies have built in several early-voting states. While its footprint is much smaller than initially envisioned due to fundraising issues, the memo notes that DeSantis’ team still has four offices and 13 paid employees in New Hampshire and another five offices and 23 paid employees in South Carolina.
In Iowa, the memo claims there will “soon be 50 paid dedicated staff” and regulatory assistance from Reynolds, which has its own statewide operations.
Helen Herbold is among the Trump supporters who are open to other candidates. She said Monday that learning of Reynolds’ support for DeSantis Sunday did nothing to move her toward him. Instead, it upset her given Reynolds’ previous statement that she would remain neutral.
“I’m disappointed that she chose to take a stand after she said she wouldn’t,” said Herbold, a retired insurance underwriter. “It doesn’t change who I’m going to support. But I’m confused why she did it after she said she wouldn’t.
Peoples reported from New York.
This article originally appeared on apnews.com