Freddy Gray Freddy Gray

What’s gone wrong for Ron DeSantis?

It’s widely acknowledged that, as governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis has been a success. As a presidential candidate, however, he has been a disaster – at least, so far.

Last weekend, amid reports that his bid for the White House was floundering, DeSantis sacked a dozen of his staff and scaled back his travel plans. He may have raised some $20 million between April and June, but some of the biggest Republican donors, who flocked towards him at the end of last year, are starting to turn away. His campaign is now concerned about funds running out.

‘The question comes down to: do you want boring Trump? And the answer is no’

DeSantis disputes the ‘doom and gloom’ characterisations of his candidacy. When a politician starts complaining about the media’s ‘predetermined narratives’, however, the real message is clear: he knows he’s losing. The polls tell the story: in March, DeSantis was only around ten percentage points behind the inevitable frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Donald J. Trump. Today the gap is more than 30 points (Trump is on 52 per cent, at least; DeSantis is dipping below 20).

Trump is relishing his adversary’s slide, naturally. ‘DeSanctimonious is a terrible candidate,’ he declared last weekend, in that glee-dressed-as-regret tone he so often deploys when discussing his failing rivals. ‘I think he’s out.’

Where did it all go wrong for Ron? After the midterms in November, DeSantis was widely tipped to be the man to stop Trump winning the nomination again. He had won re-election in Florida, historically a closely contested swing state, by a staggering 20 points. He was Trump-like in his politics but more professional, less toxic – not crazy. Trump is 77, so the relative youth of 44-year-old DeSantis seemed another point in his favour, especially as America grapples with the fact that Joe Biden, its 80-year-old President, is not in full control of his faculties.

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