Remember about a month ago when it was clear that Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were emerging as the clear co-frontrunners for the GOP presidential nomination (even though DeSantis isn’t officially in the race yet)?
Well, that’s still the case, according to two new polls released on Wednesday that surveyed Republicans’ views of 15 current and potential candidates.
Fox News finds that Trump has expanded his lead in a crowded field, but the former president and DeSantis remain the only two contenders pulling double-digit support, with Trump at 54% and DeSantis at 24%. That’s also the case in a new Quinnipiac University poll, where 47% of GOP and GOP-leaning voters back Trump and 33% back DeSantis. The next closest contender is former Vice President Mike Pence at 5%.
That helps explain why Trump keeps targeting the Florida governor. On Wednesday he fired off a slew of social media videos attacking DeSantis on issues like ethanol subsidies, Social Security and his standing in public polling. (The videos have become frequent vehicles for Trump to skirt traditional news outlets, per the Associated Press.)
Meanwhile, DeSantis is working to pitch himself as a viable alternative. Politico reports that DeSantis has stepped up his outreach to New York donors, making the case that he is the “no drama” choice who can beat Biden. And the New York Times reports that DeSantis has indicated he plans to target Trump on crime, particularly the criminal justice overhaul Trump signed into law, per three people familiar with his thinking.
In other campaign news…
Not now, but maybe not never?: Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told the New York Times that she would not run for president this cycle because “I have made a commitment to the people of Michigan, I’m going to do this job till the end of this term.” But when asked if the presidency could be in the cards for her at some point, she added that “this country is long overdue for a strong female chief executive.”
Country roads: West Virginia Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is teasing an “important announcement” on Tuesday, followed by a statewide tour. Republicans are gearing up to run against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, as well as for the open gubernatorial race.
Justice signs bill limiting transgender care: West Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Justice, who is weighing a run for Senate, signed legislation banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors.
Veto override: The GOP majority legislature in Kentucky overrode Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of a ban on gender-affirming care for transgender minors.
The Brain Room: NBC News’ Amanda Terkel, Jane C. Timm and Dareh Gregorian report on new internal slides from Fox News’ so-called “Brain Room” that investigated the false claims about the 2020 election.
‘Talent seeks talent’: Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy spoke to NBC News about why he and other allies of Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz are backing Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ expected presidential bid.
Ballot battle: The Arizona Democratic Party is expected to file a lawsuit on Thursday aiming to overturn the decision to make No Labels a recognized party that gave the group access to the state’s ballot, per the Washington Post.
Thanks but no thanks: Former Wisconsin state Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, who is running in next week’s election for that same post, told NBC News he isn’t looking for an endorsement from former President Donald Trump and wouldn’t necessarily accept it (despite receiving Trump’s endorsement in his 2020 race).