Eyes on 2024: Drama in DeSantis World

Tensions among Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ top allies have reached a boiling point in recent weeks, with two leaders almost getting into a physical altercation at a recent meeting, NBC’s Dasha Burns, Matt Dixon, Natasha Korecki and Jonathan Allen report.

The leaders of the pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down clashed at a recent meeting over the group’s strategy to combat former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley after the group found that its attacks on her were not only not working, but also starting to backfire on DeSantis. After NBC News reported on the drama last week, the super PAC’s CEO, Chris Jankowski, stepped down.

And three DeSantis allies launched another super PAC, Fight Right Inc., to take on Haley. The group’s first ad attempts to tie Haley to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, per NBC’s Ali Vitali.

Never Back Down, meanwhile, has continued to spend on the airwaves and on campaign trail events that feature the governor. The group launched a new 30-second TV ad last week featuring Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds talking about her decision to endorse DeSantis.

The Florida governor picked up another high-profile endorsement in Iowa less than two months before the caucuses. Last week, evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats endorsed DeSantis, per NBC’s Alec Hernández and Alex Tabet.

In other campaign news … 

Shapiro’s take: Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro sat down with NBC’s Allan Smith to discuss the presidential race, attributing President Joe Biden’s apparent struggles against former President Donald Trump in potential rematches to voter “brain fog” about the Trump presidency. 

Haley’s challenge: The New York Times delves into the coalition of GOP voters Haley has to bring together to have a shot at beating Trump. The Times also writes that wealthy GOP donors “have begun gravitating toward Ms. Haley and, in some cases, digging deeper into their pockets to help her.”

Money woes: The Republican National Committee recently reported its lowest cash-on-hand number since February 2015, raising GOP concerns about the party’s financial strength, per The Washington Post.

On the trail: Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy is encouraging voters during his campaign events to ask him about foreign policy, NBC’s Alex Tabet and Katherine Koretski report. 

Talkin’ ‘bout my generation: Biden’s staunch support for Israel amid its war with Hamas has threatened his support among some young voters, per the Post. 

Trump talk: With a gag order temporarily lifted in his civil fraud case, Trump again attacked the judge in the case and the judge’s law clerk. 

Eyes on the prize: Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., is staying focused on his long shot presidential bid, announcing Friday that he will not be running for re-election to Congress. 

Immigration politics: Voters’ support for tougher immigration enforcement “could test how far hard-liners can go in 2024 with anti-immigrant proposals,” writes NBC’s Suzanne Gamboa, who delves into Trump’s immigration proposals. 

Staying in the race: Hill Harper, a Democrat running for Senate in Michigan, said he was offered millions by a businessman and political donor to drop out of the Senate race and instead mount a primary challenge against Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., the Times reports.

A new House lawmaker: Republican Celeste Maloy won a Utah special congressional election to replace her former boss, former Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, who left office in September.

Seeking to expand their winning streak: Abortion rights groups are seeking to place measures to protect abortion rights on the ballot in nine states in 2024 after a winning streak at the ballot, per NBC’s Adam Edelman. 

Echoes of history: NBC’s Chuck Todd examines the turbulent election year of 1968 as a guide for what is shaping up to be another tense election year in 2024.

Bridget Bowman

Bridget Bowman is a deputy editor for NBC’s Political Unit.

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