Amid lackluster polling that shows former President Donald Trump pulling away as the frontrunner for the 2024 GOP nomination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was asked to explain what he thinks is going on, to which he replied that he is not running to be in the lead now, but rather to prevail at the final finish line, as Breitbart reports.
The uncomfortable exchange took place Thursday evening between DeSantis and Fox News Tonight host Will Cain and was part of a wide-ranging interview that included a discussion of the current state of the race.
Cain did not tread lightly when it came to digging into what DeSantis thinks might be behind the growing gap between himself and Trump in the polls.
“I have to ask you, governor, this. Why do you think, despite those successes so far, it hasn't been reflected in your polling for your 2024 run for president of the United States?” Cain began.
The host continued, “I have several different polls here. I know you're familiar with them, the latest being from a group entitled the Beacon Center. But we have RealClear Politics averages as well.”
“And while Donald Trump is above 50% in some of these polls, 60%, your numbers are somewhere between 20 and 10%, and they have stayed there for about two months,” Cain went on. “Why is it, in your estimation, the numbers have not reflected your success in Florida?”
DeSantis did his best to articulate why his performance to date has not matched the expectations of his supporters, first pointing a finger at the mainstream press.
“Well, I think if you look at the people like the corporate media, who are they going after? Who do they not want to be the nominee? They're going after me,” DeSantis contended.
He then turned his attentions outside the United States, declaring, “Who's the president of Mexico attacking – because he knows we will be strong on the border and hold him accountable and the cartels? He's going after me.”
The governor went on, “So, I think, if you look at all these people that are responsible for a lot of the ills in our society, they're targeting me as the person they don't want to see as the candidate.”
“And so, this campaign just started, but I think it's pretty clear that I'm the guy that not only can beat Biden. I'm the guy that can beat the left on all these different issues because people's freedoms are under assault,” DeSantis claimed.
Suggesting that it is far too early for anyone to make assumptions about his viability as a contender for the nomination, the GOP hopeful added that he will be making his case to the people over the course of the next several months. “I'm running to win in January and February. I'm not running to juice polling now.”
Skeptics wonder, however, whether the delta between DeSantis and Trump is already too substantial to overcome, with a recent Fox News poll showing the governor trailing the former president by a whopping 50 points among Republican voters in the key demographic group of voters under age 45, as Florida Politics noted, with his average deficit among voters coming in at 34 points.
Potentially also complicating DeSantis' prospects is another recent poll indicating, as the Washington Examiner reports, that Republican candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has boosted his level of support to 10% of the primary pool at a time when the governor's support has seen a modest decline, perhaps putting a comeback for Florida's chief executive even further out of reach.