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DeSantis Is Going About This All Wrong

AP Photo/Josh Reynolds

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has a flagging campaign. There is no way around that. Not that he deserves to have a campaign that is slipping into the shadows. The man would make an incredible leader, and if we weren’t in the midst of an already very heated early campaign season, many people who support other candidates would gladly admit that.

But despite your personal thoughts about him, the simple fact is that he’s running so far behind former President Donald Trump that to see him, DeSantis would need real-time satellite footage. Moreover, he’s continuing to lose ground while Trump continues to gain it.  The RCP average shows Trump with a 32.1 lead in the polls, making the gap DeSantis has to cross to pose a real threat to Trump a Grand Canyon-sized problem.

Given, it’s still very early in the game and there’s a lot of football left to play. Things happen throughout the course of the campaign that causes upsets every year, but the DeSantis campaign shouldn’t trust to hope that he’ll suddenly get lucky in that regard. I’ve seen the crowds for DeSantis and Trump in person, and I can tell you that Republicans are way more fired up for the latter than the former.

DeSantis needs a change.

Firstly, the Florida Governor’s outlook on media attention is surprising given how much it’s benefited him in the past. According to The Hill, DeSantis gave an interview on Fox News on Thursday where he lamented the mainstream media’s negative attention on him and blamed them for his sagging poll numbers.

“Well, I think if you look at the people like the corporate media, who are they going after?” said DeSantis. “Who do they not want to be the nominee? They’re going after me.”

He’s not wrong. I think the corporate media does have a very real fear of DeSantis becoming the GOP nominee because they’re afraid he’ll attract too many independents, but he seems to be looking at this as a problem and not an opportunity.

DeSantis is currently running in a time where people hate the corporate media by and large. The people’s trust in organizations like the New York Times, CNN, and the alphabet networks is so low that you practically have to dig it up to find it. DeSantis does himself no favors by putting any heft on their messaging. In fact, he should be welcoming their barbs.

He should be so welcoming of them that he should be courting their wrath at any given moment. DeSantis’s goal should be to have them frothing at the mouth at the mere mention of his name to the point where they begin losing their composure and they begin spouting off claims about how evil he is to the point of absurdity. Sure, he’s getting a taste of that now, but not to the level Trump is.

Trump is credited with a few things that the people find juicy. For one, he attacks and exposes the media for their absurd lies all the time. They, in turn, ratchet up their attacks on him to the point where people begin laughing at them. This not only discredits the media, but their hatred gives the impression that they truly do fear him. As I said, DeSantis is likely correct about the media having a fear of him already, but the goal is to make the media show it in a big way, not have DeSantis tell us about it.

DeSantis also has the issue of needing to get out of Trump’s shadow. The man is running a campaign that looks like it’s following in Trump’s wake because there’s not a lot that DeSantis is doing that Trump isn’t doing too. The issue is that when Trump does it, it’s going to be far more attention-grabbing. Not only does he have the benefit of already having everyone’s attention, the attacks being thrust upon him by the left are only going to spur more people to cheer him on, making DeSantis’s presence look tame by comparison.

If DeSantis wants to get out from under that shadow, he’s going to have to take a new approach and he already has the blueprint available. All he has to do is look behind him at Vivek Ramaswamy.

As my colleague Mike Miller pointed out, Ramaswamy has moved up to third place according to Echelon Insights. Ramaswamy’s approach is what I call digital hyper-aggression. Looking at his Twitter account, you can see Ramaswamy is constantly posting himself either debating or speaking. He’s actively seeking out ways to discuss his ideas or debate someone whether it’s on CNN or Charlie Kirk’s podcast. He’s on stage somewhere talking to an audience. He has his own podcast where he speaks directly on issues to the viewer.

These interviews are typically clipped moments where Ramaswamy covers a topic quickly for easy digestion and then it’s on to the next clip. You can learn a lot from and about the man by just casually scrolling through his Twitter feed.

Meanwhile, DeSantis’s Twitter feed looks incredibly passive by comparison. As of this writing, the first few videos are edited campaign videos that look a bit cookie-cutter. You have to scroll for a second to get to finally get to DeSantis speaking to Jesse Waters and it’s about New York politicians going after coal-fired pizza ovens.

This is the digital age and DeSantis isn’t utilizing the tools at his disposal well enough. Whereas Ramaswamy seems accessible and personable, DeSantis seems like a Republican politician running for office. Yeah, that’s what they’re all doing, but just being a Republican running for office in this race is a surefire way to fade into the background.

DeSantis needs to find every camera he can and appear in front of it. He needs to post these clips. He needs to take as many opportunities as he can to speak directly to potential voters with fireside chats that he can post on his socials. He needs to stop being a politician running for office and become an influencer trying to win the vote. That might sound outrageous but both of his adjacent opponents are influencers themselves and are utilizing that skill to a great degree.

If DeSantis makes these two changes, there’s no way he doesn’t begin turning the tide and regaining ground. If he’s going to come back his campaign needs to realize he’s in a completely different ballpark now, and that’s going to mean a change in strategy.

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