Operation: rescue the candidate Ron DeSantis | International

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The outside observer of the great circus of American politics quickly learns that one of Washington's favorite team sports is to elevate a public figure who can then be seen to fall with a crash. More than malice, perhaps it has to do with a distinctive feature of the personality of a country built on enthusiasm. The point is that no one wants to miss the climb. Let alone the drop, as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a struggling candidate for the Republican Party's nomination for the 2024 presidential elections, has been verifying for weeks.

Following his landslide victory in November for re-election as governor and with the blame for the disappointing results of the Republican Party in the national legislatures being pinned on Donald Trump, the United States finally seemed ready to turn the page on the meteoric political rise of the real estate mogul, reality star. And DeSantis, for the next step in his successful life: the White House.

He was assisted by an impressive resume (Harvard and Yale graduate, Navy veteran, and former congressman). But there were also doubts about whether his ruthless cultural warrior profile would work outside of Florida or about certain traits of his personality - cold, not very charismatic, uncomfortable in personal contact that every candidate is supposed to. Ten months after that, the image of an infallible winner, a kind of Trump without so much drama, someone capable of uniting the party establishment while fueling the populist passions of its base, has given way to that of a candidate in low hours. . Feared by his extremist policies on issues such as abortion, immigration or the rights of trans people, he seems unable to overcome his main competitor, who leads him in the polls with a difference that today is insurmountable craving. According to the latest average from the Real Clear Politics aggregator, the former president leads him by 33.5 points.

The penultimate sign that his company is failing and that the captain's nerves are beginning to wear out came this past weekend with the dismissal of a dozen workers from his campaign to, it has been pointed out by those around him, adjust costs. He has shown a remarkable ability to raise money, but also to spend it. The Governor's Killing Political Action Committee (PAC) has raised more than the rest of the conservative candidates, including Trump, in a race to which 10 contenders have already signed up.

DeSantis's latest moves to revive his campaign include the use of an artificial intelligence tool that emulates the former president's voice in an election ad, an attack ad hominem which adds to another recent one, in which the governor recalled that his opponent had defended LGTBI groups in the past. He also decided to give an interview on Tuesday to CNN, a liberal-leaning chain that is among his favorite targets. The media are, for DeSantis, the enemy: in Florida, he has supported the removal of legal protections for reporters, surrounded himself with communications directors always ready to attack them mercilessly, and created an ecosystem of conservative newspapers for which he is always available. , as he has always been on the other end of the phone when they called from Fox News, a chain whose owner, Rupert Murdoch, seems to have withdrawn some of his trust.

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The 15-minute interview on CNN was done by one of the star broadcasters, Jake Tapper, in Columbia, South Carolina, in a scenario that was not chosen at random: the southern state is one of the first to vote in the primaries . Tapper, who was not able to react to DeSantis's lies, when he assured that there are States that allow "abortion until after birth", questioned him about the difficulties of his campaign, and the governor, who was more friendly than usual. habit, he defended himself by saying that he is used to being underestimated.

He blamed his ills on "the media attention" that fell on him after his historic re-election, prematurely, according to his calculations. “I still had to finish my work as governor before the end of the legislative session [del Parlamento de Tallahassee]”. Voters across the country were thus able to see firsthand what his priorities were, and some campaign donors expressed concern at seeing the image of an extremist politician spread.

For the rest, DeSantis was confident in the interview that he will win in the caucuses Iowa, given that Trump, who has said he will not participate in the first debate of Republican candidates next month, does not register the best numbers in the polls in that state. He also boasted that, if elected, he would be the first war veteran president since 1988 (George HW Bush), he defended the decision of House Republicans to attack the Pentagon's policies to help soldiers who want to abort, despite the consequences that something like this could have on the recruitment figures at a time of high geopolitical tension, and charged again against the trans collective (one million people in the United States, according to Tapper). “[Si fuera presidente] I would respect everyone, but what I wouldn't do is turn society around to accommodate a very, very small percentage of the population," he warned.

The governor's appearance on CNN was overshadowed, however (and again), by news of Trump's possible third indictment. He received a letter on Sunday from special counsel Jack Smith notifying him that he was under investigation by a grand jury for his role in the November 2020 election and the events leading up to the attack on the Capitol on November 6. January 2021.

That revelation, made by the former president himself on his Truth social network, parked the rest of the political conversations on Tuesday in the United States, a day on which the Florida governor hoped to focus a few. And he forced DeSantis to come to his defense in the interview. "That's the problem, this country is on its way to criminalizing political differences," he told Tapper, endorsing the tycoon's arguments that all the legal proceedings that are open against him are only due to a "witch hunt" and an operation to remove him from the presidential race.

Every time a new courtroom front has been opened against Trump, his prospects have improved in the polls. This time it has not been different. The DeSantis campaign team, which is leaving its skin on the road, visiting key states, insists that the one that leads to the November 2024 elections is a long-distance race, that it is still too early to consider the election resolved. contest, and that they have their sights set on the beginning of the primaries. Or, as DeSantis himself put it in a recent interview with Fox News: “My goal is January or February. That's what I'm running for, not to be the favorite in the polls."

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