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Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is streamlining operations and preparing to take his message directly to hostile legacy media, signs that his campaign could be entering a new phase after his standing in the polls has remained largely unchanged since he entered the race in late May.
The 44-year-old Florida governor will be appearing this week for a special one-on-one interview this week with CNN’s Jake Tapper after having previously ignored interview requests from liberal outlets. That comes after the campaign dismissed just under 10 staffers who had been involved in event planning, according to a source familiar with the matter.
While some media reports characterized the firings as an indication the campaign is cash strapped, DeSantis raised more money during its first quarter through his principal campaign committee than any other campaign — including the campaign committees of former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden. His campaign also has the third-most cash on hand among Republican candidates with $12.2 million.
The Super PAC backing DeSantis, Never Back Down, is playing a large role in the efforts to put DeSantis into the White House, has at least $120 million in cash, and is expected to have $200 million in its fight during the primaries.
The New York Times described the effort as “so big” that “it plans to knock on the door of every possible DeSantis voter at least four times in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — and five times in the kickoff Iowa caucuses.”
Some national and state polls showed DeSantis as the frontrunner in the primary immediately following the November midterms, where he won re-election as Florida governor in a 19-point blowout even as other Republican candidates underperformed across the country.
However, Trump has since regained his lead in the polls. He saw a significant boost in the polls after he was indicted on dozens of felony charges by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg earlier this year in a case seen as politically motivated. Trump’s Super PAC has also spent more than $20 million in ads attacking DeSantis — $4 million more than it spent on boosting all the Republican candidates it supported in the midterms combined.
A source familiar with the matter said that the DeSantis campaign believes that the polls will start to shift once the primary debates start next month. Trump has signaled that he doesn’t intend to take part in the debates.