WASHINGTON (TND) — Florida Gov. Ron Desantis is officially running for the top of the 2024 GOP ticket and the newly minted presidential candidate has hit the ground running.
Right now, DeSantis is in Miami meeting with top donors and advisors before he hits the road as a presidential candidate.
He will hold a campaign kickoff event in Iowa on May 30 — it’s being called the “Great American Comeback Tour." It will begin a four-day swing through 12 cities and towns in the early nominating states, including New Hampshire and South Carolina.
DeSantis supporters are also hosting a three-day calling event being dubbed "Ron-O-Rama" to fundraise. The New York Times reports that more than $8.2 million was raised in his first 24 hours as a presidential candidate but it’s not clear how many donors contributed in that time.
Political marketer Craig Agranoff says DeSantis’ latest fundraising efforts proves he is a candidate that should be taken seriously.
Money matters, and people want to give money to candidates who are getting money,” Agranoff said.
He says that type of cash flow can bring more voters.
“Remember when you have more money, you can go to more events, you can fly to more states, you can do more grassroots, you can hire more staff, you can open more field offices, you can do more digital media, you can do more television commercials – that always brings more votes,” he said.
However, he says too much money could make a candidate look like they’re part of the political establishment.
DeSantis reportedly entered the presidential race with more than $110 million raised by several committees anticipating his announcement. But some say now, DeSantis should focus on his smaller donors.
The big donors can max out their donations early and then they can’t give you anymore but those small donors, I’ve often heard it be compared to a spicket that they’re like a hose you can turn on when you need it,” said Jacob Ogles, a reporter with FlordiaPolitics.com.
Both Agranoff and Ogles agree that money can propel candidates like DeSantis forward, but grassroots movements set a candidate apart.
“There are states where you have to go in there and be a retail politician. You have to go to the state fairs, you have to go to the local caucuses and the local Republican clubs and get to know people really well,” Ogles said.
In his first television interview, DeSantis put out a rallying call, declaring that should he win, he would clean house in a key federal agency that has been under intense scrutiny as of late.
I would not keep Chris Wray as director of the FBI. There would be a new one on day one and I think that’s very important,” DeSantis said.
The FBI and the Justice Department are increasingly a target from top Republicans who claim the agencies have been “weaponized” and turned into tools that Democrats use to go after political enemies like former President Donald Trump while protecting insiders like the president's son Hunter Biden.
“If we cannot craft authorities that are in line with our values and our beliefs on the constitution and particularly the First Amendment, then yes, I think that we ought to take a meat cleaver rather than an Exacto knife to some of these agencies,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.
It’s a sentiment echoed by many on the far right. After his indictment by the Manhattan District Attorney, Trump took to Truth Social, writing, "REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS SHOULD DEFUND THE DOJ AND FBI UNTIL THEY COME TO THEIR SENSES."
DeSantis signaled support during his campaign launch conversation on Twitter.
If an agency is engaging in conduct that is outside the realm of what is legal or you think it’s not good for the public interest, then you can remove the funding for those operations,” he wrote.
Some like Mike Howell, director of the Oversight Project at the Heritage Foundation, feel that institutions like the FBI need a complete operation overhaul.
“I think we’re heading towards that path where it is going to be basically commonly accepted that the federal government or these supposedly neutral institutions are incapable of being neutral in this political environment,” Howell said. “What we need are political leaders to get a head of that moment and start providing some actual legislative fixes.”
As House Republicans continue to investigate the agencies, it’s sure to be a key part of the GOP nominees’ campaigns.