By James Oliphant
DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, after his online debut in the presidential campaign, will delve into old-school retail politics in key early voting states this week, his first chance to connect with voters since announcing his candidacy for the 2024 Republican Candidacy.
DeSantis will campaign in Iowa for two days, then travel to New Hampshire and South Carolina on a tour that will be closely watched to see if the buttoned-up, politically-minded governor can demonstrate interpersonal skills that, according to some critics miss him.
Former President Donald Trump, the frontrunner in the Republican race, will be right behind him. Trump will hold events in Iowa the day DeSantis collapses in New Hampshire, a sign that the nomination battle is about to enter a more intense phase.
DeSantis will host a launch event in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday, the kind of old-fashioned campaign rally he shunned in favor of announcing his candidacy in a virtual Twitter forum with owner Elon Musk. plagued by technical problems. . The fiasco drew ridicule from Trump and other rivals.
Iowa is a key state for DeSantis. The Iowa caucuses next February will be the first nominating contest in the country, and the state’s large evangelical population has at times been at odds with Trump. Trump lost the caucuses in 2016 to US Senator Ted Cruz.
New Hampshire and South Carolina will hold nominating contests in the coming weeks.
Since his announcement, DeSantis has argued he’s the only Republican capable of defeating Democratic President Joe Biden, who beat Trump in the 2020 election, and lamented what he calls a “culture of loss” within party.
DeSantis stepped up his attacks on Trump, suggesting Trump strayed from conservative principles during his sole term as president by backing immigration reform and strong anti-COVID pandemic policies.
“He’s a different guy from 2015, 2016,” DeSantis said Friday in an interview with The Daily Wire, a conservative news site.
DeSantis’ campaign said it raised $8.2 million in the first 24 hours after its launch, signaling that it would receive significant financial support from party donors seeking to ensure that Trump would not get the nomination.
(Reporting by James Oliphant; Editing by Leslie Adler)