OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
A former top official in then-President Donald Trump’s administration has switched gears and will not be supporting his one-time boss for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination.
Instead, Ken Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general who later served as acting deputy Homeland Security director during the last two years of Trump’s administration, has launched a super PAC to support Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis instead, though he has not formally declared his candidacy.
Cuccinelli says the newly established Never Back Down PAC he is leading has a clear objective: to assist DeSantis in making a quicker start in his bid for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, should he decide to run, Fox News reported exclusively on Monday.
Despite advocating for some of Trump’s border security and immigration policies while serving in the administration, Cuccinelli has recently been focused on promoting DeSantis to voters in key states.
Former Trump official Ken Cuccinelli launches PAC urging DeSantis to run https://t.co/h3NqDTuT9I pic.twitter.com/tVmXuySyoA
— The Hill (@thehill) March 11, 2023
On Wednesday and Thursday, he visited Iowa, the first state in the Republican presidential primary, and on Friday and Saturday, he traveled to New Hampshire, which hosts the second contest. During these trips, Cuccinelli held meetings with influential Republicans in both early-voting states, Fox News noted.
“The mission is to touch as many individuals, particularly of influence, that I can to get a read on those two states and to introduce, in more detail, Gov. DeSantis to these communities,” Cuccinelli said Friday in an interview with the outlet.
Today I’m launching Never Back Down PAC @Nvrbackdown24 to encourage @GovRonDeSantis to run for President in 2024 🇺🇸
The energy is real. Grassroots conservatives see that Governor DeSantis is a proven leader who can win in 2024. #NeverBackDownhttps://t.co/1VKNweKgq5 pic.twitter.com/OaKq1XJrKr
— Ken Cuccinelli (@KenCuccinelli) March 9, 2023
“I have been speaking to many grassroots conservative activists around the country who are very enthusiastic for Governor DeSantis to run for President in 2024,” Cuccinelli notes in a statement on the super PAC’s website. “The energy is there, grassroots conservatives see the Governor as a leader and a fighter with a winning conservative track record who will lead the Republican Party to victory in 2024.
“Based on those conversations, I am most confident that we will build an unmatched grassroots political army for Governor DeSantis to help carry him to the White House,” the statement continued.
It was great spending time in New Hampshire talking about @RonDeSantisFL!
Join the Draft to get DeSantis to run for president in 2024 at https://t.co/IJwvPjZMLx#NeverBackDown pic.twitter.com/Ttfwg5vFK9
— Ken Cuccinelli (@KenCuccinelli) March 18, 2023
In his Fox News interview, Cuccinelli continued: “As you might expect, Republicans across the country have their own idea about who Gov. DeSantis is. But no one knows everything. I don’t know everything. But I can provide them a lot more details and a lot more information on his positions, on his life story, on how he’s functioned so successfully as the governor of Florida, where I believe he’s been the best chief executive we’ve at the governor or presidential level in decades. And that’s really his calling card. People are very impressed with how well he’s done. And so we’re trying to give people an organizational focus early in the race.”
He went on to say that he’s “trying to provide an organizational center with the super PAC so that people can start getting ready if he [DeSantis] does decide to get in, which looks likely… that we’ll already have prepared the ground for him and he’ll be off and running to a much faster start than he otherwise could have pulled off.”
Over the last three years, DeSantis has gained immense popularity among conservatives across the country. This is largely attributed to his unwavering opposition to pandemic-related restrictions and his confrontational approach toward the media, corporations, and teachers’ unions. In the November gubernatorial re-election, the governor won by an impressive margin of 19 points. In his recent speeches, DeSantis has emphasized that his policy successes in Florida could serve as a blueprint for the entire nation, Fox News reported.
Insiders within DeSantis’ political circle have indicated that a potential presidential campaign launch may occur in late spring or early summer, after the current legislative session. Despite this, the governor’s recent travels to early voting states such as Iowa and Nevada, as well as his upcoming trip to New Hampshire next month, which was first reported by Fox News, have heightened speculation regarding a likely White House bid, the outlet continued.
“America’s future is Ron DeSantis. Ron DeSantis doesn’t just talk he acts, but most of all he never backs down. Governor DeSantis, today I’m asking you to run for President. You’ve had our back now we will have yours,” Cuccinelli said in a video launching the PAC.