As we wrote earlier in the week, the New York Times released a report on a leaked strategy memo by the Super PAC supporting GOP presidential candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ campaign, for the first Republican primary debate being held next week.
In the wake of the Times story, several of DeSantis’ opponents in the race made comments—including from Ramaswamy’s campaign, as RedState’s Neil McCabe reported Friday:
The campaign spokeswoman for biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who is running for the GOP presidential nomination, mocked the idea that Gov. Ron DeSantis would take a rhetorical sledgehammer to her boss, calling him “Fake Vivek” or “Vivek the Fake” from the debate stage in Milwaukee.
“Vivek’s job on Aug. 23 is to introduce himself and his vision to the American people,” said Tricia McLaughlin, the one-time communications director for the Ohio Republican Party.
“These boring, canned attack lines from a robotic candidate doesn’t change that,” she said.
“If DeSantis struggles to use a spoon, I can’t imagine he is particularly agile with a sledgehammer,” she said.
Then on Saturday, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also went after DeSantis for the memo, during a town hall campaign stop, my colleague Jeff Charles wrote:
In response to a story revealing that the Florida Governor’s debate strategy might involve defending Trump while hammering entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Christie argued that if DeSantis wasn’t serious about defeating the former president, he should drop out of the race and endorse him:
The only way to beat someone is to beat them. If [DeSantis] thinks he’s gonna get on the stage and defend Donald Trump on Wednesday night, then he should do Donald Trump a favor and do our party a favor, come back to Tallahassee, endorse Donald Trump, and get the hell out of the race.
DeSantis campaigned in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Saturday. After an event there, in a new interview with Fox News Digital, DeSantis said that the SuperPAC memo controversy is “just something we have put off to the side,” explaining that “the memo is not mine. I haven’t read it.”
He brushed away the attacks from the other candidates over the leaked memo, and since he began running for 2024:
I know from the military, when you’re over the target, that’s when you’re taking flak. And if you look really in the last six to nine months, I’ve been more attacked than anybody else. Biden, Harris, the media, the left, other Republican candidates. And there’s a reason for that, because people know that I’m the biggest threat. So we view it as positive feedback. We’ll be ready to do what we need to do to deliver our message, but we absolutely expect that, and we’ll be ready for it.
The governor was also asked if he plans to hold back on “punching back” at attacks aimed at him during next week’s debate:
DeSantis told Fox News, “Yes, that means defending ourselves but more importantly showing why we are the leader to get this country turned around.”
If the first debate, as some have speculated, is the real start of the Republican presidential primary, then this ruckus over the debate memo could signal we’ve got loads of fireworks ahead in the months leading up to the Iowa caucuses. Stay tuned.