Former top Trump administration official launches pro-DeSantis super PAC
A former top official in then-President Donald Trump’s administration is launching a new super PAC to support a potential 2024 Republican presidential run by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
The new organization, named “Never Back Down PAC,” is being launched by Ken Cuccinelli, the former Virginia attorney general who later served as acting deputy homeland security director during the last two years of the Trump administration. Cuccinelli was a strong advocate for some of Trump’s hardline and controversial immigration policies during his tenure in the nation’s capital.
“Today I’m launching Never Back Down PAC to encourage @GovRonDeSantis to run for President in 2024,” Cuccinelli said on Twitter. “The energy is real. Grassroots conservatives see that Governor DeSantis is a proven leader who can win in 2024.”
“Ron DeSantis doesn’t just talk, he acts, but most of all he never backs down,” Cuccinelli emphasized in the video posted to social media. “Gov. DeSantis, today I’m asking you to run for president. You’ve had our back, now we will have yours.”
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Two sources familiar the thinking of DeSantis’s political world told Fox News that the new super PAC would likely have the governor’s blessing should he go forward and run for the White House.
Records indicate the “Never Back Down” PAC filed with the Federal Elections Commission late last month.
Two existing super PACs — titled “Ready for Ron” and “Ron to the Rescue” — which are not affiliated with DeSantis or his political circle are already up and running, raising money as they urge the governor to launch a presidential campaign. But sources in DeSantis wider political orbit have described those groups as “a grift – plain and simple.”
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Super PACs, known as independent expenditure-only committees, are legally allowed to raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, and to spend unlimited sums to support or oppose political candidates. Unlike traditional PACs, they are prohibited under long-standing federal rules from either coordinating or contributing directly to a candidate or candidate’s campaign.
But the interest the pro-DeSantis groups appear to be garnering does serve as an early barometer of the apparently sizable grassroots support for the governor, should he announce a presidential run.
DeSantis won an overwhelming 19-point gubernatorial re-election victory in November. His popularity soared among conservatives across the country over the past three years due to his forceful pushback against coronavirus pandemic restrictions and his aggressive actions as a culture warrior going after media, corporations and teachers unions.
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The governor is widely expected by political pundits to launch a Republican White House run later this year, but he currently remains on the 2024 sidelines. In recent speeches, he has been spotlighting that his policy victories in Florida can serve as a roadmap for the entire nation.
Sources in DeSantis’ wider orbit have said any presidential campaign launch would come in the late spring or early summer, after the end of the current legislative session. But the governor’s latest travel itinerary, which will take him to the states that kick off the GOP presidential nominating calendar, are sparking more speculation about an increasingly likely White House run.
DeSantis makes multiple stops Friday in Iowa, the state that kicks off the GOP presidential nominating calendar. On Saturday he will visit Nevada, which holds the fourth contest in the Republican caucus primary schedule. Sources in the governor’s wider political orbit tell Fox News that visits to New Hampshire and South Carolina, which vote second and third in the calendar, are likely in the weeks ahead.
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Most public opinion polls in the burgeoning GOP nomination race, including one released recently from Fox News, show DeSantis trailing only Trump, with everyone else in single digits.
Asked about his 2024 timeline last week on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” DeSantis pointed to the upcoming legislative session and his book tour and said, “Those are what we’re going to be doing over these next few months. As we get beyond that, then we can decide from there.”