It’s long been clear that Ron DeSantis has put all his chips on the state of Iowa. Last week, The Washington Examiner wrote, “Don’t tell Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) he is an underdog as the Iowa caucuses approach. He rang in the new year rallying Republicans in the state to put him on a glide path to the party’s 2024 presidential nomination.
‘I think we have an opportunity to just make a statement that in this country — it’s we the people that ultimately decide these things,” he said in West Des Moines on New Year’s Eve. ‘Because I think you have a lot of media, they don’t think you even matter.’”
DeSantis is betting that the voters in Iowa matter a lot. As his national standing has faded, he has increasingly counted on Iowa to rejuvenate his presidential prospects when caucusgoers convene on Jan. 15.”
Now, a political insider has revealed that the Florida governor will be putting his money where his mouth is. Douglas MacKinnon, a veteran of the Reagan and elder Bush administrations, recently outlined the DeSantis plan if things don’t go his way in a week or so.
Writing in The Hill, MacKinnon says, I have heard from two people very familiar with the DeSantis campaign — a major donor and a high-level political operative — that if the Florida governor loses the Iowa caucuses to former President Donald Trump as expected on the night of Jan. 15, he will either drop out of the race that night or make his announcement the next morning.
More than that, both believe DeSantis will then — very begrudgingly — endorse Trump for president.
Should both predictions come to pass, DeSantis would be jumping on a bandwagon that is dramatically increasing in speed and taking on more and more Republican politicians looking to back the clear frontrunner. Last week, Trump received critically important endorsements from House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (Minn.) and Majority Leader Steve Scalise (La.). Those are on top of Speaker Mike Johnson’s (La.) endorsement just a month ago.
Joining the Minnesotan Emmer was the rest of the GOP congressional delegation from that state: Reps. Michelle Fischbach, Pete Stauber and Brad Finstad.
In the middle of December, Desantis pointed out that polling the Iowa Caucuses has traditionally been difficult. The Des Moines Register reported, “Strengthening his already overwhelming lead ahead of January’s Iowa Caucuses, Trump now has the support of a majority of likely Republican caucusgoers in Iowa — more than 30 percentage points higher than his nearest challenger, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“They do these polls, they’re never accurate with the caucus, because it’s all about turning out the folks and then everyone you turn out they bring a neighbor, they bring a family member and then you get a great crescendo of support on caucus night,” DeSantis said in Dubuque.
DeSantis may have a point. In 2016, going into caucus day, polling had Trump leading by nearly 4 points over the field, but the result of the election swung to Texas Senator Ted Cruz winning by over 3 percent.
In 2012, the GOP caucus saw an even wider shift of opinion at the last second, stunning Mitt Romney and almost transforming the race. Senator Rick Santorum shocked most political watchers when he jumped not only Romney, but also Ron Paul in the Iowa Caucus, going from 10 points down to winning the state.
Before the voting begins, the Florida governor will be facing off against Nikki Haley in one final debate on January 10. Donald Trump also qualified for the contest but has so far refused to participate in any debate.
On the campaign trail in recent days, noted CNN, DeSantis has repeatedly slammed the former president for refusing to participate in GOP primary debates.
“He’s not been willing to come here and answer questions,” DeSantis told the new channel. “He parachutes in for 30, 45-minute, hour speech and then just leaves, rather than listening to Iowans answering questions and doing, I think, what it takes to win.”