Ron DeSantis accused of ‘stupid’ decision with timing of New Hampshire event

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Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign is struggling in the crucial state of New Hampshire and may have made matters worse by scheduling an event on Tuesday to compete with a speech by Donald Trump to Republican women, prompting a prominent strategist to call the move a “stupid”. Politico reported.

“It’s the worst strategic move he’s shown so far,” New Hampshire Republican strategist Mike Dennehy told the website. “It’s just stupid, actually. You’re not attacking the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women.

Related: Republican red meat: Ron DeSantis tries to outflank Trump from the right

An anonymous adviser to a rival candidate chimed in, saying, “If there’s one thing you don’t do in New Hampshire, it’s piss off grassroots women.

“Don’t mess with them, they remember everything. Rookie movement.

Florida’s far-right governor officially launched his first presidential campaign last month. He remains a close second to Trump in the polls but trails about 30 points in most averages as Trump’s state and federal indictments have failed to significantly dent his support.

Detailing DeSantis’ “stumbles” in New Hampshire – the second state to vote in the GOP primary, traditionally a stronghold of libertarian-minded conservatives – Politico said: “There are signs that even inside from DeSantis’ orbit, they see New Hampshire as a challenge.

Politico and other outlets have noted that DeSantis’ culture of war record in power, with the use of state power to regulate private behavior (abortion) or to punish corporations that oppose his policies on issues such as LGBTQ+ rights and education (Disney), would likely land heavily in libertarian New Hampshire.

John Kasich, the former Ohio governor who came second to Trump in New Hampshire in 2016, told NBC: “I never thought all these social issues were really winning.”

A DeSantis-supporting Super Pac has suspended advertising in the state, Politico said, though its founder, Ken Cuccinelli, said the New Hampshire site remained “literally the top priority.”

DeSantis, who did not comment, is scheduled to visit New Hampshire on Tuesday, appearing in Hollis two hours before the state’s women’s group holds its annual luncheon in Concord, featuring a speech from Trump.

Last week, Christine Peters, the group’s events director, said: “It has always been a New Hampshire trait to be considerate when planning events. Bring in a candidate and distract them from the most special event [the group] holds in the year is unprecedented.

Politico said DeSantis’ sources dismissed the criticism because he would appear elsewhere and at a different time.

Another Republican state operative, Matthew Bartlett, told NBC that the competition between DeSantis and Trump is “absolutely heating up. That’s the game. That’s presidential policy. It’s bullshit. You better bring your A game. It’s not the time for amateurs.

But polls showed another Trump alternative, former New Jersey governor and seasoned political brawler Chris Christie, improving his standing in New Hampshire.

Another state GOP operative, Dave Carney, told Politico, “Right now Trump is the guy to beat in New Hampshire — that’s just a fact. That doesn’t mean it can’t be beat. But right now… no one beats him.

DeSantis is also tracking Trump in Iowa, the first state to vote, and South Carolina and Nevada, other key targets among early primary contests.

Dennehy said DeSantis had to “turn the tide” – or face “political death by a thousand cuts”.

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