As Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis makes his first trip on Friday to Iowa — the state that leads off the GOP presidential nominating calendar — the Florida governor has reportedly told confidants that he intends to run for the White House in 2024.
DeSantis’ trip will be his first this cycle to any of the early voting states in the GOP primary and caucus schedule. He will make stops in Des Moines and Davenport, where he will be joined by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa. He will also meet with GOP state lawmakers at the capitol in Des Moines.
On the eve of the trip, the Washington Post — citing two sources familiar with his comments — reported that DeSantis had described his plans to run for president without adding any caveats which would suggest he is still deciding on whether to launch a campaign.
The Florida governor saw his popularity soar among conservatives across the country over the past three years due to his forceful pushback against coronavirus pandemic restrictions and his aggressive actions as a culture warrior going after media, corporations and teachers’ unions. The governor won an overwhelming 19-point gubernatorial re-election victory in November. In recent speeches, he has been spotlighting that his policy victories in Florida can serve as a roadmap for the entire nation.
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Sources in DeSantis’ wider orbit have said any presidential campaign launch would come in the late spring or early summer, after the end of the current legislative session.
However, the governor’s latest travel itinerary is sparking more speculation about an increasingly probable White House run. After the high-profile visit to Iowa, he heads on Saturday to Nevada, which votes fourth in the GOP presidential nominating calendar. Additionally, sources have told Fox News that stops in New Hampshire and South Carolina, which hold the second and third contests in the GOP presidential nominating calendar, are likely in the coming weeks.
Fox News has learned that DeSantis’ events in Iowa and Nevada are being organized by “And to the Republic,” a recently-formed public advocacy group that planned the governor’s recent stops in New York City, and in suburban Philadelphia and Chicago, to showcase is law enforcement support.
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The trip to Iowa comes days after the start of Florida’s legislative session, where DeSantis aims to chalk up more conservative victories, thanks in part to a newly elected GOP supermajority in Tallahassee. It comes as he travels across the country highlighting his “Florida blueprint” and promoting his newly released memoir, “The Courage to Be Free.”
On Thursday night, he headlined a major Alabama GOP dinner.
When asked about his 2024 timeline last week on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” DeSantis pointed to the upcoming legislative session and his book tour and said, “Those are what we’re going to be doing over these next few months. As we get beyond that, then we can decide from there.”
Meanwhile, in another sign of a likely DeSantis White House run, former Trump administration acting deputy Homeland Security Director Ken Cuccinelli launched a new pro-DeSantis super PAC Thursday, named “Never Back Down PAC.”
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Two sources familiar with the thinking of DeSantis’ political world told Fox News that the new super PAC would likely have the governor’s blessing should he go forward and run for the White House.
Two existing super PACs — titled “Ready for Ron” and “Ron to the Rescue” — which are not affiliated with DeSantis or his political circle, are already up and running, raising money as they urge the governor to launch a presidential campaign.
However, sources in DeSantis wider political orbit have described those groups as “a grift – plain and simple.”
As DeSantis arrived in Iowa, a new poll of Republican voters in the state indicated that they have nearly equal favorable views of former President Trump and DeSantis.
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Eighty percent of Republicans questioned in a highly anticipated Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll released early Friday said they have a very or mostly favorable view of Trump, with 75% saying the same thing about DeSantis.
However, the poll highlighted that the former president’s favorable ratings in Iowa have steadily declined since peaking a year and a half ago.
Trump launched his third presidential campaign in November, with former two-term South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley declaring her candidacy last month, becoming the first major Republican to join the former president in the race for the GOP nomination.
Haley, who served as ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, stands at 53% very or mostly favorable in the survey. Four in 10 questioned in the poll did not know enough about Haley to form an opinion.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is making plenty of moves towards to launching a White House campaign but who like DeSantis currently remains on the 2024 sidelines, was viewed very or mostly favorably by two-thirds of GOP respondents.