Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has maintained a solid second place behind fellow Sunshine State resident and former President Donald Trump throughout the 2024 GOP presidential nomination cycle, but his numbers have begun to slip in recent weeks.

In fact, one new poll has DeSantis virtually tied with businessman and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy for second place behind Trump, who was well ahead.

Nevertheless, DeSantis said earlier this month he has no intention of slowing down and indicated he would be on the first GOP debate stage next month regardless of whether Trump decides to show up or not.

“I’ll be there regardless. I hope everybody who’s eligible comes. I think it’s an important part of the process and I look forward to being able to be on the stage and introducing our candidacy and our vision and our leadership to a wide audience,” DeSantis said Thursday on “Fox News Tonight.”

The scheduled date for the first GOP debate is Aug. 23.

Fox News noted:

Trump, who’s the commanding front-runner in the latest GOP presidential primary polls as he makes his third straight White House run, has indicated both publicly and privately that he may skip the debate, due in part to his large lead over the rest of the field of Republican 2024 contenders.

But Trump campaign officials say the former president has yet to make any final decision on his participation in the debate. Trump’s aides have also been looking into options for an alternative event should the former president skip the debate.

On Friday, Fox News contributor and co-host Katie Pavlich responded to the new survey showing Ramaswamy now tied with DeSantis for the No. 2 spot behind Trump.

During a segment on Fox Business Network’s “Kudlow,” featuring former Trump administration economist Larry Kudlow, she and another guest talked with the host about the troubling numbers for the Florida governor

“Forty-eight percent, Trump,” Kudlow said, reading the Kaplan Strategies poll. “Twelve percent, Ramaswamy, 12 percent, DeSantis.”

“He’s like the Mayor Pete of this race, I think, right now,” said guest and New York Post reporter Jon Levine. “I think a lot of voters are looking at this race thinking there’s a lot of yesterday’s news in this race – people like Chris Christie and Mike Pence. And Ramaswamy is someone that offers voters something new.”

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Pavlich, meanwhile, said that DeSantis’ campaign has spent a great deal of money but does not have much to show for it so far.

“It has to be bad for the Desantis campaign, who’s looking at all the resources, all the money they’ve spent,” she said. “They’re trying to regroup their campaign, and to have Ramaswamy – who has no political experience – come in and be tied, it’s not good for them.”

At one point, DeSantis was seen as the only serious challenge to Trump for the 2024 nomination, especially after winning his reelection race last year by more than 19 points. But his star may be fading, at least for the current election cycle, as Trump remains dominant among Republican voters.

The Florida governor has chosen to tackle a lot of cultural issues as a cornerstone of his campaign, and he did so again at an event earlier this week in South Carolina. He was interrupted while speaking to an affluent crowd at the Philip T. Glennon Community Center in Tega Cay by an LGBTQ activist, the Daily Wire reported.

The activist unfolded a rainbow flag and began shouting at the governor, who largely ignored the person while security moved in to take care of the situation.

After security personnel had corraled the individual, the crowd cheered, and DeSantis said, “And they shouldn’t be worried about our children, either!”

“We don’t want you indoctrinating our children!” DeSantis demanded. “Leave our kids alone!”

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