Gov. Ron DeSantis’ 2024 presidential campaign has faced headwinds nearly from the start. After a glitch-filled kickoff on Twitter Spaces, the Florida governor has never really found his footing in the polls or in the press.
According to the RealClearPolitics averages, the GOP hopeful is polling 30 to 40 points behind former President Donald Trump. In key primary states like Iowa and South Carolina, other Republican candidates are starting to catch up to DeSantis. This week, news came in that the DeSantis campaign has laid off about a third of its team across an array of departments in an effort to reduce costs.
On Friday’s show, Megyn sat down with Gov. DeSantis to discuss the state of his campaign, how he feels about the polls, and whether he’s shifting his media strategy.
A Potential ‘Reset’ for Team DeSantis
Between the sagging poll numbers and staffing changes, many have questioned the strategy of the DeSantis campaign and whether it’s headed for or already in the midst of a “reset.” The governor did not deny that there have been some shake ups internally, but he said it does not have any bearing on the overall campaign. “That’s not about the message and that’s not about getting out there with voters,” he said. “That’s about how you’re applying resources to the campaign headquarters versus the early states.”
He believes the structural hiccups will not prove to be a factor in who ultimately claims the GOP nomination. “What’s going to be determined in the race is we need someone that can beat Joe Biden,” he explained. “We need somebody that’s going to be a strong leader that has a record of success; we need someone that’s actually going to get this stuff done.”
That’s where he believes his resume speaks for itself. “We made bold promises and we over delivered on our promises,” DeSantis shared. “And so that’s the type of leader they’ll get with me.”
Shifting Media Strategy
Since the start of his run, Megyn has critiqued DeSantis’ media strategy as overly conservative – both literally and figuratively. He has largely gravitated towards appearances on right-of-center outlets that don’t allow him to have the kind of headline-grabbing exchanges that helped to elevate him to the national stage to begin with.
That does appear to be changing. DeSantis appeared on CNN in an interview with Jake Tapper last week, and he argued that he is not media shy. “I do media availabilities all the time – I’ve probably done more press conferences as governor than any governor in history,” he said. Megyn agreed that had been a fixture of his governorship – but not his presidential campaign. “As governor, when you were fighting the COVID wars and all of that, yes,” she challenged. “But since you’ve actually declared, it seems like you’ve been in a conservative bunker.”
While DeSantis said he expects to do more media in the coming months, he doesn’t believe he has been dodging the press. “We’re going to continue to do that on the campaign trail, and we may sit down for some more interviews as we continue to go,” he shared. “I think people like to hear directly, but the idea that I was not engaging with hostile media, that’s just not the truth. That’s kind of how I got known.”
In Megyn’s view, mixing things up with some noteworthy moments with the mainstream media could help raise his profile. “Don’t you think having a viral moment with, you know, somebody on the far left who hates you is going to be helpful to you,” she asked. DeSantis, for his part, agreed. “It could,” he admitted. “I mean, that definitely has helped me in the past.”
Ultimately, such situations allow him to push back on the preconceived notions about what he stands for. “I think a lot of times, they are in their own cocoon and so they’re trying to propagate narratives,” he concluded. “But these narratives are easy to deconstruct… If you just know your stuff… you can handle that very easily.”
You can check out Megyn’s full conversation with Gov. DeSantis by tuning in to episode 597 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.