A treasure trove of candid advice, confidential memos, and internal polling has been thrust into the public eye as the primary super PAC supporting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis published an extensive collection of documents online. This rare peek behind the curtain offers an extraordinary glimpse into the strategic underpinnings of DeSantis’s campaign machinery, underscoring the gravity of the upcoming Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee.
The wealth of materials was shared via the website of Axiom Strategies, a firm associated with Jeff Roe, the chief strategist of DeSantis’s super PAC, Never Back Down. This unprecedented move appears to be an attempt to steer the candidate’s approach during the pivotal debate, infusing the campaign with a well-defined strategy. The documents, now removed from the website, provide a candid overview of the advice and polling insights offered to the Florida governor in preparation for the high-stakes event.
The urgency of the situation was evident in the provided memos, where the directives for DeSantis are succinctly listed:
- Engage in 3-5 attacks on Joe Biden and the media.
- Highlight DeSantis’s positive vision 2-3 times.
- Employ a strong retort against Vivek Ramaswamy when necessary.
- Defend Donald Trump, especially in response to a potential Chris Christie attack.
The explicitness of the advice mirrors the gravity of the debate, with DeSantis’s campaign advisers considering the event a pivotal moment that requires a clear, well-defined strategy.
Deciphering the Unconventional Approach
Notably, what makes this document dump unusual is its level of transparency and the depth of strategic insight provided. Such open sharing of internal polling and strategy memos is a risky endeavor, as it exposes the campaign to potential embarrassment or criticism from media outlets and rival campaigns. However, this practice is not unheard of, as super PACs often choose to disclose such information on platforms accessible to insiders while remaining within the boundaries of campaign finance regulations.
Yet, the decision to post extensive, detailed documents on a public-facing website indicates the gravity of the situation and the importance of ensuring that the candidate is well-prepared to tackle the upcoming debate. The trove of documents covers a wide range of topics, from polling data and strategic advice to insights on each of the candidates expected to participate in the debate.
The DeSantis Campaign’s Response and Strategy Unveiled
Despite the massive information release, neither the DeSantis super PAC nor the campaign responded to requests for comment. The documents reveal a comprehensive approach to handling various aspects of the debate, with a focus on steering the narrative, attacking opponents when necessary, and defending DeSantis’s stances and affiliations. One glaring omission was the absence of a document specifically addressing Donald Trump, despite the former president’s ongoing criticisms of DeSantis.
The main strategy memo aimed to provide DeSantis with a framework for seizing favorable media attention from the debate. It recommended a confrontational approach, advising the governor to “take a sledgehammer” to Vivek Ramaswamy, a rising political figure, and to robustly defend Trump whenever Chris Christie initiates an attack. The strategy memo was later removed from the website after The New York Times made contact, suggesting the campaign’s sensitivity to the potential consequences of such a candid disclosure.
Shifting the Narrative and Securing the Movement
The provided documents offered an in-depth script for DeSantis to craft his position relative to Donald Trump. The memo suggested a sequence of statements that acknowledge Trump’s significance while highlighting the need for a fresh approach that extends beyond his influence. This strategy aims to establish DeSantis as a torchbearer for the movement that Trump ignited, positioning him as the candidate who can effectively lead it into the future.
The documents also provided a YouTube link as “inspiration,” directing the candidate towards an ad produced by Win It Back PAC. The ad, running in Iowa, portrayed a disillusioned former Trump voter expressing concerns about Trump’s electability, subtly implying that it’s time to move forward from the Trump era.
Key Takeaways from the Revealed Strategy
In this unprecedented document release, several key takeaways emerge:
- Unconventional Transparency: The extent of information shared on a public platform is rare, signaling the high stakes and urgency surrounding the debate for the DeSantis campaign.
- Candid Strategy Insights: The provided documents offer a detailed roadmap for the candidate to navigate various aspects of the debate, from attacking opponents to steering the narrative.
- Strategic Positioning: The strategy advised DeSantis to assert his unique position in the GOP field, while strategically addressing potential attacks and criticisms.
- Trump Dynamics: The absence of specific strategy documents focused on Trump underscores the complexity of the relationship between the two and DeSantis’s sensitivity to the issue.
- Movement Building: A crucial aspect of the strategy was to position DeSantis as the torchbearer for the movement ignited by Trump