Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis had two goals for 2023 — pass conservative legislation during the state’s legislative session, and (possibly) run for president.
And now that the session has come to a close — with DeSantis signing legislation limiting abortion access, expanding the death penalty, weakening unions, banning children at drag shows, loosening concealed firearm restrictions, and restricting diversity and gender education in schools, among other measures — the presidential speculation continues to pick up steam.
DeSantis traveled to Wisconsin over the weekend ahead of a potential delegate chase against former President Donald Trump; he’s leaned heavily into his feud with Disney that will now head to a courtroom; and the Washington Post reports that DeSantis is ramping up his fundraising schedule with bundler briefings and donor dinners.
But while the governor’s recent dip in the GOP presidential nominating polls has stifled some excitement for his bid, his camp spent the weekend responding to another bad break — ABC News obtained leaked footage from debate prep during his 2018 gubernatorial bid.
In it, DeSantis tries to walk a tightrope on the question of whether he disagreed with Trump on anything, and decides to push back firmly on criticism regarding his warning that Florida not vote for Democrat Andrew Gillum, who is Black, and “monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda.”
In other campaign news…
Party time: Former President Donald Trump is courting delegates to the GOP’s 2024 convention, ensuring he won’t be outmaneuvered like he was in 2016, Politico reports. The effort shows how Trump has shifted “from the political newcomer of 2016 who oversaw a chaotic operation, to the experienced campaigner now playing the inside game.”
Trump trial: Trump will not be testifying in his civil trial where he faces rape and defamation allegations from writer E. Jean Carroll, per the Associated Press.
Asa’s take: Former Arkansas GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson did not directly answer if he would support Trump if he is the Republican nominee. Hutchinson, who recently launched his own presidential run, said on Meet the Press, “I expect to be on the debate stage. We’re still looking at what is required for that in terms of the pledge,” referencing the potential pledge to support the nominee that the RNC may require in order to participate in debates.
Who is Julie Chávez Rodríguez?: NBC News’ Peter Nicholas, Nicole Acevedo and Katherine Doyle profile Biden’s 2024 campaign manager, Julie Chávez Rodríguez.
Defending Hunter: Biden defended his son Hunter, who could face tax and firearms charges, telling MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle, “First of all, my son has done nothing wrong. I trust him. I have faith in him.”
Biden’s cavalry: The Associated Press reports that three outside groups — Future Forward USA Action, Climate Power and Way to Win Action Fund — are launching a $20 million ad campaign to tout Biden’s record on prescription drug costs, energy jobs and the middle class.
Time for Tim?: Many GOP senators are quick to praise Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., but they aren’t as quick to endorse him ahead of his expected presidential campaign announcement, NBC News’ Scott Wong, Ali Vitali and Stephanie Ruhle report.
Independent streak: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., who has not yet said if she’s running for re-election, said Sunday that she does not plan to become a Republican. She told CBS’ “Face the Nation, “You don’t go from one broken party to another.”
A second chance at a first impression: Politico reports on how New York’s new bail proposals in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s budget give Democrats another opening to try to push back on the Republican attacks on the issue that dominated the midterm fight.
The machine sputters: George Norcross, the longtime Democratic powerbroker in New Jersey, tells Politico he’s stepping back and that “it’s time for others to lead the party.”