One of the most seasoned Republican operatives is launching a draft committee to lay the groundwork for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to run for president in 2024, regardless of what Donald Trump does.
"We will start building the structure for a campaign now," Ed Rollins, best-known as campaign manager for Ronald Reagan's landslide reelection as president in 1984, told Newsmax. "Gov. DeSantis himself is not likely to say anything about a presidential run for at least six months after he is reelected [as governor] in November, assuming he is reelected.
"I say [Republicans] cannot afford to wait six months for a leading presidential candidate to emerge."
So, with help from a few hitherto-unidentified financial backers, Rollins has cobbled together a super PAC known as “Ready for Ron” to advance the Floridian's presidential chances before he officially becomes a candidate.
As he said of then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee when he joined his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, Rollins told Newsmax he sees in DeSantis "the same qualities I saw in Gov. Reagan when I worked in Sacramento in the 1960s to take strong stands and then explain them in terms people can understand."
Any discussion of DeSantis as a presidential candidate inevitably comes around to the lone candidate who leads the governor in polls of Republicans as their favorite in 2024: Trump.
"I was very much for Trump the last time and felt he was a very good president, especially with his appeal to disenchanted voters and his record on border security," said Rollins, who ran an independent political action committee known as Great America to support Trump's reelection in 2020.
While insisting he would support Trump again if he is the Republican nominee in 2024, Rollins also said "it was a time for a new candidate and to look ahead" with new Republican faces and talent.
At 79, Rollins has "seen it all" as a campaign operative. Along with his associations with the presidential bids of Reagan, the late New York Rep. Jack Kemp and Huckabee, the native Californian was briefly co-chairman of the late Ross Perot's independent presidential bid in 1992 ("the worst experience of my life") and has worked on campaigns in and outside the Golden State for a half-century.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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