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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) speaks during a convocation at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., on April 14.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., on April 14. Tom Williams / Getty Images

Eyes on 2024: Day one on the campaign trail for DeSantis

Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis spent the first day of his campaign raising money and appearing on conservative programs.

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Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis spent the first day of his presidential campaign making the rounds on conservative programs and raking in campaign cash. 

The campaign announced Thursday that it raised $8.2 million in the first 24 hours after DeSantis launched his run, NBC News’ Natasha Korecki, Matt Dixon and Dasha Burns report. DeSantis’ team outlined the campaign’s strategy to around 100 donors who attended the summit, describing the GOP primary as a two-person race between DeSantis and former President Donald Trump, and suggesting the primary could be decided after Super Tuesday.

Dixon and NBC News’ Jonathan Allen also report that official staffers for DeSantis’ gubernatorial office have been soliciting campaign donations from Florida lobbyists. They write that the move is “a breach of traditional norms that has raised ethical and legal questions and left many here in the state capital shocked.”

DeSantis, meanwhile, made the rounds on several conservative programs and podcasts. 

During an interview on “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show,” DeSantis suggested he would consider pardoning some people involved in the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol, and he left the door open to pardoning Trump if he is convicted on federal charges. DeSantis also appeared on Newsmax, and said he was surprised to see Trump attacking him “from the left,” per NBC News’ Abigail Brooks. 

“I’m not sure what his strategy is, but I think he’s taking positions that are a little bit different than four or five years ago,” DeSantis said. 

DeSantis did not roll out any new congressional endorsements in the first day of his campaign. Instead, Florida GOP Rep. Daniel Webster said he was endorsing Trump. 

In other campaign news…

Pricey primary: Presidential ad spending is already outpacing the last election, with ad spending in the GOP primary set to eclipse $30 million over the weekend — 50 days earlier than Democratic primary four years ago.

Another governor jumping in: North Dakota GOP Gov. Doug Burgum is expected to jump into the presidential primary in the coming weeks, NBC News’ Henry Gomez reports. Gomez caught up with Burgum in his home state, where he drew indirect contrasts with his potential rivals and said “he sees a path for himself by focusing less on culture war grievances and more on the economy, energy policy and national security,” Gomez writes. 

Scott’s take: Presidential hopeful Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said Thursday that his home state’s six-week abortion ban was “good news” and that the state is “trying to protect the culture of life.” 

Sununu’s View: New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu joined “The View,” and declined to directly address his own presidential ambitions, per NBC News’ Julia Jester. But asked if he was satisfied with the current field, he said, “It’s still months away from the first debate, right? We don’t know who can take a punch or give a punch. I think there’ll be other candidates that get in.” 

Re-run time: Republicans are “nervously bracing” for some far-right candidates who lost in 2022 to run again next year, NBC News’ Allan Smith and Henry J. Gomez report.

Except for these two: Those potential candidates, however, no longer include Pennsylvania GOP state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who lost last year’s race for governor. Mastriano announced Thursday that he is not running for Senate, while former hedge fund executive David McCormick responded with a statement that he was “seriously considering a run.” 

And in Arizona, Karrin Taylor Robson, who ran for the Republican nomination for governor in 2022 and lost, said she won’t run for Senate in 2024, per a press release.

Menendez gifts in the spotlight: The Department of Justice is investigating whether Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. and his wife accepted luxury gifts in connection with a local business that won an exclusive government contract.

Tug-of-war in the Golden State: In California, Democratic voters will decide which side of the party they’ll embrace when sending a new senator to Washington — a leader of the anti-Trump movement in Rep. Adam Schiff, or a more diverse, liberal and female member of the party, which could be Rep. Katie Porter or Rep. Barbara Lee, the Washington Post reports