Gov. Ron DeSantis has name-dropped a potential running mate should he manage to capture the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. After touting her during his candidate forum with Tucker Carlson on Friday, DeSantis said Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is on his short list of VP picks.
“Governor, you have spent a lot of time with Governor Reynolds, you defended her after President Trump’s recent statements,” a reporter said to DeSantis at an event on Saturday after the Friday event, which was also held in Iowa. “Would you consider her as a potential vice presidential pick in this campaign?”
“Of course,” DeSantis said in response. “I mean, she’s one of the top public servants in America, I thought the attacks on her were totally, totally out of hand and totally unnecessary.”
“We should be thanking good Republican officeholders,” he continued. “You know, we kind of joke about the Iowa-Florida [competition], sometimes they do things before us, sometimes we do. But honestly, I want them to do better than us because it’s healthy. When Republicans are doing well, I like that, I don’t get jealous of that, I want to see them do well.”
“And so they’ve done a great job and I think she’s been a model public servant and anybody who’s a Republican that’s trying to denigrate her I think is way off base on that,” he concluded.
Standing beside DeSantis when he was making his remarks was Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican who was nodding in agreement.
Former President Donald Trump’s continued rise in the polls is putting an extreme amount of pressure on DeSantis, who has consistently been in second place in 2024 GOP primary polling.
As noted by Reuters, the DeSantis camp is putting a great deal of effort into winning the very important state of Iowa in January “despite the former president’s commanding lead in polls and growing questions about DeSantis’ viability.”
Trump has led the GOP field since he officially declared his candidacy in November, but, according to several recent surveys, he has managed to widen his lead over DeSantis, to say nothing of the rest of the GOP field, most of whom are polling in single digits.
“Even as he trails Trump by close to 30 percentage points in national polls, DeSantis and his advisers are sticking to a long-haul, Iowa-first strategy. They hope that an upset win in the state would stall Trump’s momentum, according to two sources close to the campaign, who asked not to be identified so that they could discuss campaign strategy,” Reuters noted, adding:
They acknowledged they might never fully close the national polling gap before Iowa’s caucuses on Jan. 15, the first in a series of nominating contests to decide the Republican nominee for the November 2024 presidential election.
The focus on Iowa appears to be a recognition by the campaign that DeSantis’ other paths to victory are shrinking, turning the Midwestern state into a do-or-die for him, according to more than a dozen interviews with the DeSantis campaign, Trump advisers, grassroots Republican operatives in Iowa and donors.
After a much-anticipated presidential launch on May 24, DeSantis is languishing a distant second in the Republican field and has yet to catch fire in any real way.
“A win in Iowa, a second in New Hampshire, we lose a couple of candidates before Nevada and South Carolina, and then we are in a bloody, two-person race,” said one of the two sources in comments to Reuters, making reference to follow-on primaries.
“He’s gotta have a win in the first three primaries, and Iowa is his best bet,” noted Chris Stirewalt, an election analyst with the American Enterprise Institute.