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DeSantis advisers prepare for possible presidential run, explore personnel options


Advisors to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are actively preparing for a possible presidential run, according to two Republicans with knowledge of the conversations that described meetings and preliminary staff moves — the latest indication that DeSantis is laying groundwork for a national campaign.

DeSantis’ political team has already identified multiple potential hires in early primary states like New Hampshire and Iowa, according to one Republican, who said veteran agents have expressed interest. This Republican also said that Phil Cox and Generra Peck — two key members of DeSantis’ 2022 reelection team — are involved in ongoing 2024 talks.

Another Republican with knowledge of the talks said DeSantis advisers recently met to discuss the 2024 election. The Republicans spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

Some in DeSantis’ orbit expect Cox and Peck to play roles in a DeSantis run, if it happens. Cox, a former executive director of the Republican Governors Association, did not immediately respond to requests for comment, nor did Peck, who was the campaign manager for DeSantis’ decisive midterm victory over Democrat Charlie Crist.

DeSantis spokesmen did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

DeSantis is widely seen as a formidable potential challenger to former President Donald Trump, heading out this weekend for the first time since his November campaign announcement, with planned Saturday stops in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Recent polls have shown DeSantis ahead of Trump, including a survey released this week in which the governor led the ex-president among likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters.

Bill Bowen, a GOP deputy from New Hampshire, said enthusiasm for a DeSantis campaign is high in his state. “I am confident that there is a good network of established party people in New Hampshire that will soon have a very effective DeSantis campaign,” Bowen said.

But DeSantis has said little about his ambitions for 2024 and has dodged questions about his plans. His 19-point reelection margin in Florida this fall cemented his status as a rising star in the party, just as many Republicans began to once again doubt Trump’s ability to win conservative victories after many of his approved candidates lost key races in the interim.

DeSantis is one of many Republicans taking steps to enter the 2024 presidential race. Alternative potential candidates include members of the Trump administration, such as former Vice President Mike Pence, and a host of other governors — some of those aligned with Trump, and others who have vocally criticized the former president.

DeSantis, a former congressman, narrowly won his first term as governor in 2018 after introducing himself as a staunch Trump ally and winning the former president’s endorsement. He quickly gained national fame for his response to the coronavirus pandemic, lifting restrictions and opposing mask and vaccine mandates ahead of many other governors.

He has portrayed himself as an enemy of the “awakened” left and embraced battles over divisive social issues, worked with the Republican-led Florida legislature to limit school discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity, and feuded with Disney after his leaders had criticized the policy.

In his second term, DeSantis leaned further into fights that boost the GOP base. In the space of a few weeks, he has attempted to reshape a public liberal arts college with conservative board members; faced backlash from civil rights and Democrats leaders over his administration’s decision to ban an Advanced Placement high school course on African American studies; and announced action against what his office called the “biomedical security state” while exposing a doctor who is unfounded claimed that coronavirus vaccines caused the death of Elvis Presley’s daughter.

GOP supermajorities in the state legislature give DeSantis more power to set his agenda this term, and Republicans expect to address issues such as abortion, data privacy, “constitutional carrying” for firearms, and the use of “environmental, social and governance” (ESG) criteria in investing, which some conservatives have criticized.

Even though DeSantis has built a reputation beyond the borders of his state, he has never run a national campaign and some Republicans question whether his success will continue. the largest political scene.

A measure of his ability to win over political insiders came this week when he praised Harmeet Dhillon, a candidate for Republican National Committee chairman, in an interview with conservative activist Charlie Kirk, saying: “I think we need change to have.” On Friday, Dhillon was defeated by incumbent Ronna McDaniel.

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