Gov. Ron DeSantis is facing a critical moment in his campaign as he prepares for the third Republican primary debate in his home state of Florida. This debate is “crucial” for DeSantis, who was once seen as the inevitable nominee after his successful reelection as governor. However, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has outperformed him in their previous meetings, and former President Donald Trump continues to skip the debates. It’s clear that DeSantis must prevent Haley from having a good night in order to maintain his standing in the race.
Republican debate: Ron DeSantis makes last stand for White House bid on Florida home turf | Washington Examiner https://t.co/7YJyhpAphF
— Jason Miller (@JasonMillerinDC) November 8, 2023
To complicate matters, DeSantis and Haley are not competing for the same Republican primary voters. DeSantis portrays himself as a “culture warrior,” while Haley focuses on preserving a business-friendly environment and advancing American influence abroad. This has led to the perception that the campaign is now a two-person race between DeSantis and Haley for second place.
DeSantis’s campaign has labeled Haley as a “spoiler,” arguing that her appeal to moderate Republicans increases the chances of a Trump nomination. The campaign goes so far as to say that any money raised or spent by the pro-Haley community should be considered an “in-kind” contribution to Trump’s campaign. Despite a tumultuous summer, DeSantis’s campaign believes he has rebounded and points to his momentum in Iowa, where he has gained the endorsement of Governor Kim Reynolds.
Haley, on the other hand, is feeling confident after polls show she leads President Joe Biden in six battleground states by 9 percentage points. She has also previewed her debate strategy, accusing DeSantis of lying about his energy record and orchestrating a government-wide cover-up of his Chinese business recruitment.
Overall, the third debate will be a make-or-break moment for DeSantis. He must prevent Haley from gaining more name recognition and attention, and he must convince voters that he is the true alternative to Trump. With Trump dominating the primary so far, it’s clear that DeSantis has an uphill battle ahead of him.