OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
For months, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been holding down second place in the 2024 Republican presidential field, and while well behind the party’s frontrunner, fellow Floridian and former President Donald Trump, DeSantis has nevertheless maintained a solid grip on his position.
But that grip now appears to be slipping.
On Friday, Fox News contributor and co-host Katie Pavlich responded to a new survey showing entrepreneur Vivek 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.”
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.
DeSantis, who is on pace to become the first GOP presidential candidate to file paperwork in the first-in-the-south primary, 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.
At one point, DeSantis was addressing President Joe Biden when he said, “I have something to say to him: ‘Why don’t you focus on spending more time with your granddaughter in Arkansas, or at least acknowledge she exists, before you worry about our children?’”
Around that time, 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!”
AP reporter Meg Kinnard noted another moment during the speech where a woman in the audience who called herself “a very hardcore Trump supporter” talked about the impact the event had on her.
“My love for President Trump comes from all the despair, all the things that he’s been through, has served as our president of the United States. And he did a good job,” the woman said. “But all the things, I’m thinking more with my heart, and my sorrow and my love for him, and for this country.”
“But now I have, this is the most important vote that we’re gonna have,” the woman noted further, the Daily Wire said. “And I have to think more with my mind and what’s best for this country, and you did an excellent job, and I certainly appreciate it.”
“God bless you,” DeSantis responded. “Thank you. I appreciate that, and I agree with you, I appreciate what President Trump did. How they treated him with things like Russian collusion was a disgrace. And he was treated wrong. He was treated in ways that were unconstitutional.”