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Image: Ron DeSantis Holds First Presidential Campaign Events Across Iowa
Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis at a campaign event at Eternity Church on May 30, 2023 in Clive, Iowa. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Eyes on 2024: Trump and DeSantis, a lesson in contrasts

A number of flash points have emerged this week as the two men hit the campaign trail. 

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While most of the Republican presidential field continues to tiptoe around former President Donald Trump, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis sees enough room for a contrast. 

A number of flash points have emerged this week as the two men hit the campaign trail. 

They’ve sparred over the length of time each man could serve as president — DeSantis has repeatedly suggested that his ability to serve two terms will be an asset, telling NBC News’ Gabe Gutierrez on a rope line that “If you only serve one lame-duck term, the bureaucrats will just wait you out and then they’ll go back to business as usual.”

DeSantis has also been willing to criticize Trump’s administration from the right on issues like Covid. Multiple times this week, DeSantis called for a “reckoning” over the federal government’s “disastrous” pandemic policies and criticized former public health official Dr. Anthony Fauci. (The implicit dig on the Trump administration is clear, even as CNN reports that DeSantis praised Fauci in the early weeks of the pandemic.)

And we’ve even seen a contrast in the image DeSantis is presenting of himself, one of a family man with his wife center-stage and his children in tow, another implicit contrast amid Trump’s legal woes related to allegations he paid off a porn star and a recent jury verdict finding him liable for sexual abuse. 

For Trump, his entire campaign is about contrasts — he’s attacked DeSantis as disloyal and not conservative enough, with pejorative nicknames to boot. And his allied super PAC has spent millions trying to bury the governor on the airwaves on issues like Social Security and taxes. 

But if there’s one takeaway from DeSantis’ first big week on the trail, it’s that, unlike many other Republicans, he’s just fine punching back. 

In other campaign news … 

Scott’s cavalry: Trust in the Mission PAC, a super PAC backing Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., is launching a new TV ad as part of a $7.25 million ad buy, per Fox News. 

Meet David Sacks: CNBC’s Brian Schwartz delves into David Sacks, the venture capitalist who co-hosted DeSantis’ Twitter Spaces event announcing his presidential campaign, unpacking how Sacks “is working to become a GOP kingmaker.” 

Haley’s haul: Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has called for a ban on foreign lobbying, but some of her donors include current or former lobbyists for foreign clients, per ABC News. 

Not mailing it in: Iowa GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law requiring Iowa caucuses to be held in person, clashing with Democrats who want to offer caucus-goers an opportunity to participate by mail, per the Des Moines Register. 

Going for gov: Democratic state Sen. Mark Mullet jumped into the race to succeed retiring Gov. Jay Inslee in Washington, per the Seattle Times. And in New Hampshire, Democrat Cinde Warmington, the only Democrat on the state’s Executive Council, announced that she is running for governor, per WMUR. 

Sights on the Senate: Steve Garvey, who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is weighing a run for California’s open Senate seat as a Republican, per the Los Angeles Times. And in Delaware, Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester is planning to launch her Senate campaign this month, Politico reports. 

Taking sides: Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer, the former House Majority Leader, took sides in the open Maryland Senate race on Thursday, backing Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. The race also includes Hoyer’s House colleague, Democratic Rep. David Trone.

Curding him into it: Politico reports on how Senate Republicans are still trying to convince Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher to run for Senate this cycle against Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin. 

Stepping aside: Republican Bill Gates is not running for re-election to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Arizona, after facing threats for his work overseeing the 2022 elections.