The Elephant in the Room for DeSantis: Bartiromo Asks Him About His 'Failure to Launch'

AP Photo/Josh Reynolds

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave a good interview to Maria Bartiromo on Sunday. He had some good policy responses to her questions including things like the next president needing to “clean house” after the politicization of the agencies under Joe Biden.

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But then she went to the big elephant in the room — she asked him about why he wasn’t doing better in the polls vs. former President Donald Trump? She referenced an article that included a comment from a DeSantis surrogate acknowledging that they were “way behind” in the polls.

“What’s going on with your campaign?” Bartiromo said. “There was a lot of optimism about you running for president earlier in the year.” She spoke about the article calling it a “failure to launch.” “What happened?” she asked.

DeSantis laughed and said these were “narratives.” “The media does not want me to be the nominee,” he continued. “I think that’s very, very clear. Why? Because they know I’ll beat Biden. But even more importantly, they know I will actually deliver on all these things.”

Fox has had a pretty favorable opinion of DeSantis, but even a Fox panel with Mark Simone and Kellyanne Conway went there on the question of the “failure to launch” and discussed various reasons that they thought might be the issue, including that DeSantis hasn’t been in a national campaign before.

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Simone said that while he admires DeSantis, his campaign is ill-timed.

“Listen, we like the guy,” Simone said. “We gotta do an intervention. We gotta tell him, ‘You’re 44 years old. You’re way too early. Wait 10 years when you’re in your 50s and do it.’ He doesn’t have the campaign skills. He is–talk about failure to launch. He’s just sinking.”

Fox contributor Kellyanne Conway offered similar thoughts.

“Look, I’ve been long on the record that he should have waited to run – not just because of his age [but ] because he’s got a really big job he just got reelected to do of governor of our third-largest state,” she said. “Got reelected by 20 points. A lot of pressure from media for him to run. When the mainstream media tells you which Republican can win, run the other way.”

But the bottom line is that it’s a real question. I always preface with saying polls are polls, and we’re some ways off yet — things can change. But as Bartiromo noted, the polls have DeSantis running far behind Trump. She noted a Fox poll that has him down 34 points. If he wants the nomination, what is going to get him past the Trump juggernaut? He can sell himself as the guy who can beat Biden. But If he can’t get past Trump, he isn’t going to get to the main show against Biden. Unless something like some further legal issue for Trump intervenes, what gets DeSantis there? DeSantis suggested that things might change when people start looking at it more during the debates. Maybe.

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But part of DeSantis’ problem is people know Trump; they’ve liked his policies, particularly in the wake of the debacle that is Biden, so that’s a lot for DeSantis to get past. There’s also a “rally round” effect because of the hoaxes, indictments, and political efforts by the Democrats to take Trump out for years. He goes up every time they throw something against him. He’s hugely popular with the Republican base because he also connects with people, as he showed at the UFC event on Saturday.

Then on top of that, the polls are also not currently helpful for one of DeSantis’ big selling points: that he has a better chance against Biden.

A new Echelon Insights poll also has Trump up over Biden in the swing states by eight points.

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A lot of the money people ran to DeSantis thinking he was going to be Trump without baggage. But those polls are going to make them nervous now too.

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