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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis heads to Iowa as White House run speculation reaches fever pitch

DeSantis for president: Will he or won't he run?
Gov. Ron DeSantis waves as he finishes State of the State address, March 7, 2023
Posted at 7:56 AM, May 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-12 18:56:40-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Will he or won’t he run?

That continues to be the question as Florida’s governor departs for another out-of-state trip this weekend. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis is hitting Illinois Friday evening, then the key caucus state of Iowa on Saturday, only furthering speculation that a White House bid is right around the corner. 



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Matt Sczesny
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The Republican is set to make two Saturday stops in the Hawkeye State. He'll appear at a state GOP fundraiser in Cedar Rapids and a cookout with U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa.

The official word is that DeSantis is there to boost conservatives, not himself. Yet speculation over a White House run continues to grow. DeSantis even started to lean into those notions Wednesday.

"I may have something to say about the overall landscape for '24 but stay tuned on that," DeSantis said.

Ready and waiting is the super PAC Never Back Down.

"I've never seen anybody do the things he's doing and not get in," said Ken Cuccinelli, the founder of the PAC and a former official during Donald Trump's administration.

Cuccinelli created the PAC shortly after the 2022 midterms, hoping to lay a political foundation for DeSantis and encourage him to jump in.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, April 24, 2023


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Never Back Down already has one ad campaign running in early primary states like Iowa. It's raised at least $30 million. It even has people on the ground doing door knocks for DeSantis.

"He's the most popular Republican in America," Cuccinelli said. "I'm not talking about polling results — that will all come later. But he is literally the most favorably viewed Republican in America today. Because people know he's been doing such a great job."

But what about polling?

DeSantis is well behind the former president in two new surveys from both Iowa and Florida. Pundits, however, don't think that means much.

"This is way too early to be paying attention to polls," University of South Florida Professor Emerita Dr. Susan MacManus. "I remind people that in 2019, 20 Democrats were seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2020 election. It was three states or four states into the primary system before Biden even had a shot."

Speaking of Democrats, they and other DeSantis opponents have launched television, digital and radio ads to run in Iowa as the governor makes his stop. The five-figure advertisement buy will "introduce his extreme agenda to Iowans" said the group behind them, DeSantis Watch.

But they're not all the governor has to worry about.

Trump will also host his own Iowa rally on Saturday in Des Moines. Once allies, the two politicians started taking shots at each other.

Trump has dubbed Florida's governor "Ron De-Sanctamonious" while alleging DeSantis is "disloyal" for considering a White House run.

Pundits suggest Trump sees the governor as his biggest threat in the GOP primary. DeSantis showed why on Friday. Never Back Down announced the governor has now sown up the endorsements of 37 Iowa lawmakers in the state Legislature.