Ron DeSantis is struggling in the polls, and at acting like a human being in public. The Murdochs are losing patience with his flailing efforts to become the alt-Trump for voters exhausted by MAGA. He’s getting a lot of negative headlines now that his Republican-dominated state legislature back home has ended its legislative session and is therefore no longer producing anti-woke bills for him to sign into law and pump into Fox’s news cycle.
So naturally he’s turning to a key voting bloc that — at times reluctantly — got behind Donald Trump in droves in 2016 to propel him to the White House: white evangelicals. It’s an intrinsic shift for any Republican but especially for one who is banking his entire 2024 bid on what he perceives to be his unique ability to scoop up disaffected Trump voters looking for an alternative to the former president’s various disagreeable features.
DeSantis, a Catholic, seems to think he can appeal to evangelicals in a way Trump can’t, per a new Politico report. He may not be wrong. Polling has shown that many white evangelicals who voted for Trump in 2016 had decided they could no longer stomach him and his various moral shortcomings by 2020. While DeSantis may not have a personality, he is not plagued by the same breed of personality problems as Trump, which include his various alleged sexual assaults and sacrilege. Plus — while Trump may have paved the way for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe, DeSantis capitalized on that anti-abortion momentum to pass a six-week abortion ban in his state (a move that, so far, he rarely touts outside of certain circles).
Like all the Republican 2024ers besides Trump, DeSantis has been spending a considerable amount of time in Iowa this month. Tomorrow he plans to address The Family Leader, a large Christian organization that is made up of pastors who lean uber-conservative. The CEO of the group, Bob Vander Plaats, has faith in DeSantis’ appeal to the group, telling Politico that “America wants to turn the page” and “if you’re looking for an alternative to Trump, I think Gov. DeSantis is the frontrunner right now.”
Plus, he’ll have a familiar face helping him shoot his shot with the influential faith leaders attending the conference. Per Politico:
Inside what is expected to be a packed convention center in Des Moines on Friday, DeSantis will be interviewed by ousted FOX News anchor Tucker Carlson. And while he won’t have the dais to himself — Pence, Scott, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy and Asa Hutchinson will all take a turn on stage — DeSantis will appear as the decided frontrunner in the absence of Trump. The former president leads Iowa polls by double digits and opted to skip the assembly.
DeSantis could hardly have asked for a more favorable setting.
The Florida governor will field questions from a well-known TV personality whose disdain for Trump is well-documented. And in front of an audience of like-minded conservatives who take seriously their first-in-the-nation role, he has an audience that may be more receptive to his argument of electability — albeit one weakened by his refusal to acknowledge Trump lost his 2020 reelection.
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