CNN commentator and Democratic political strategist Paul Begala was astounded by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ leaked presidential debate advice, calling it “the dumbest thing I’ve seen in a long time.”
The New York Times on Thursday published documents detailing debate and campaign strategies for the Republican presidential candidate that were posted on the website of Axiom Strategies, a company owned by the chief strategist of DeSantis’ super PAC, Never Back Down.
After the Times reached out for comment Thursday, one particular memo was removed from the website. Hours later, the other documents were reportedly taken down.
The memo in question presented four key goals for DeSantis at the debate:
1. Attack Joe Biden and the media 3-5 times.
2. State [DeSantis’] positive vision 2-3 times.
3. Hammer Vivek Ramaswamy in a response.
4. Defend Donald Trump in absentia in response to a Chris Christie attack.
“Leaking this is like, the dumbest thing I’ve seen in a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of dumb things,” Begala said of the memo. “If Gov. DeSantis wants to defend Donald Trump, well that is Donald Trump’s job. He has plenty of defenders.”
Begala added that DeSantis’ team had put the governor in a terrible position ahead of the Aug. 23 debate, “because now, everything he says in the debate, we’re all going to say, ’Oh, that was scripted. That was false.’”
The other candidates mentioned in the memo, business executive Vivek Ramaswamy and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, should “send the DeSantis super PAC a fruit basket or something and thank them,” Begala said.
The memo also directed DeSantis to “Invoke a personal anecdote story about family, kids, Casey, showing emotion,” and suggested specific lines he could use to defend Trump and attack Ramaswamy.
It was posted among hundreds of other pages of campaign advice, research and polling for the Florida governor’s campaign, according to the Times.
Trump has indicated he won’t attend next week’s debate hosted by Fox News in Milwaukee. He leads DeSantis, his closest rival in the polls, by nearly 40 points, according to RealClearPolitics.