Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gestures at the CNN Republican presidential debate with former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024.
With his presidential campaign on life support, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told a conservative radio host that he regrets not engaging more with the national mainstream media.
“I should have just been blanketing. I should have gone on all the corporate shows,” DeSantis told Hugh Hewitt Thursday, on the heels of his 30-point loss to former President Donald Trump in Iowa Monday. “We had an opportunity to come out of the gate and do that and reach a much broader folk.”
As a presidential candidate and governor, DeSantis was generally hostile to the mainstream media, shunning interviews and sticking mostly to engaging with right-wing outlets. But DeSantis began to change his strategy during the summer when it became clear that he was stagnating against Trump, signaling a new direction by sitting down with CNN’s Jake Tapper in July.
“Now, I’m everywhere,” DeSantis told Hewitt, adding how he’ll now take questions from the press at his events and engage with the outlets he previously accused of bias against Republicans. “I mean, I’ll show up wherever.”
It’s a markedly different tone for a governor who pushed state lawmakers to pass legislation that would effectively open journalists up to frivolous lawsuits and ran a communications operation that viewed its combative relationship with the media as a point of pride.
And it comes as DeSantis confronts single-digit polling in New Hampshire’s presidential primary Tuesday. The DeSantis operation seems to realize the futility of competing in New Hampshire, instead focusing its resources on the following contest in South Carolina, the home turf of its former governor and presidential candidate Nikki Haley. On Wednesday, the allied super PAC that’s backed DeSantis began laying off staffers, and its former spokesman published an op-ed calling for Republicans to unite behind Trump.
In the run-up to the Iowa caucuses, DeSantis criticized the right-wing media bubble that he claims has gone soft on Trump.
“They just don’t hold him accountable because they’re worried about losing viewers,” DeSantis told The New York Times. “And they don’t want to have the ratings go down.”