A meeting where high-level strategists for Florida Governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis were supposed to discuss strategy against his rival Nikki Haley almost descended into a melee, according to a report from NBC News.
Sources who spoke to NBC revealed that the near-brawl, which took place last Tuesday, reflected growing tensions within the board of Desantis’ main PAC, Never Back Down. According to one source who was in the room, Jeff Roe, a consultant for Never Back Down, nearly came to blows with Desantis’ advisor and PAC board member Scott Wagner.
“You have a stick up your ass,” Roe reportedly told Wagner, who responded by demanding that Roe “come over here and get it.” Wagner was reportedly restrained by his fellow board members before the two could actually duke it out. Three DeSantis allies unaffiliated with Never Back Down launched a new PAC following the disastrous strategy session.
The DeSantis campaign, once the great Republican hope for a challenge to former President Donald Trump’s 2024 bid, has failed to perform to expectations. Sources told NBC News that the Florida governor, his wife, and other prominent members of the campaign had become frustrated with what they viewed as a lack of effectiveness by the leadership of Never Back Down, which had opened the door for Haley to gain significant ground in the lead-up to the primaries.
The new PAC, named Fight Right, reportedly seeks to tackle DeSantis’ Haley problem in a way Never Back Down seemed incapable of doing. The PAC has already launched ads in Iowa comparing Haley to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The ads insinuate that “Crooked Hillary” is a “role model” for the former South Carolina governor and United Nations Ambassador.
The reality is that a new PAC may do little to stop DeSantis’ receding tide of support. The Florida governor has delivered lackluster debate performances, the highlights of which have been memes mocking how deeply uncomfortable he looks in his own skin. Trump himself singled out DeSantis as the designated punching bag for his own campaign, and as previously reported by Rolling Stone, had his campaign cook up strategies to humiliate DeSantis in every way they could imagine.
With less than two months remaining before the Iowa caucuses, the next weeks are make or break for candidates. In DeSantis’ case, sliding polls and infighting amongst his chief strategists may have already left things beyond repair.
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