Here’s what happened…
A recent video released by Never Back Down, a fundraising group aligned with Ron DeSantis, has poked fun at Donald Trump for his reportedly low campaign rally attendance. As the 2024 Republican presidential nomination race unfolds, the video highlights Trump’s claims of attracting tens of thousands of supporters to his political rallies and contrasts them with various news segments portraying smaller turnouts, evident through empty bleachers and significant gaps in the crowds. Many of these news reports suggest that only hundreds are attending his rallies.
According to Newsweek, former President Trump has consistently asserted that tens of thousands, and sometimes even a million people, have attended events related to him. For instance, he claimed that over one million people attended his inauguration in January 2017, a statement that was disputed, as official attendance figures are not available.
Never Back Down, the political action committee (PAC) associated with DeSantis’s presidential aspirations, has previously taken jabs at Trump. In a previous video, the group compared DeSantis’s educational background with Trump’s and highlighted the Florida governor’s experience as a legal counsel to a Navy SEAL commander during his deployment to Iraq, a military role his political rival lacks. However, it’s important to note that Trump remains the frontrunner in the 2024 GOP presidential nomination race.
Never Back Down has assumed many of the day-to-day responsibilities of DeSantis’s presidential campaign, including voter outreach activities typically handled by the campaign itself. While a PAC can raise unlimited funds from corporations, it cannot directly contribute more than the federal limit to candidates. It can, however, make independent expenditures related to a campaign without coordinating with the candidate. Communication with the official campaign about strategy and research is restricted, but the PAC can freely publish information online or direct others to do so.
Despite these distinctions, Never Back Down has been credited with managing various aspects of the Florida governor’s campaign for the presidency, according to a Bloomberg report. Some election experts argue that traditional campaign activities have been shifted to the super PAC, with Larry Noble, a former general counsel with the Federal Election Commission, finding it hard to believe that this is done without coordination.
Bloomberg also reports that Never Back Down had $96 million in funds by the end of June of the current year, while Trump’s PAC held $30.8 million during the same period. However, these figures have not been independently verified by Newsweek.
Andrew Romeo, a DeSantis campaign spokesman, assured Bloomberg that they were following the rules, stating, “We will continue to follow the law as we maximize our resources by accepting special-guest invitations to bring Ron DeSantis’s message to reverse the decline of this country and lead our Great American Comeback to as many voters as possible.”
This video release comes at a time when DeSantis is experiencing a decline in polls, despite his direct competitor for the White House being entangled in a series of legal battles related to corporate finances and election rigging allegations. A study conducted by the University of North Florida and published on November 7 shows DeSantis trailing Trump by 39 points, with Trump leading by 60 percent to DeSantis’s 21 percent among Republican voters in Florida. In a direct head-to-head comparison, Trump maintains a 59-29 percentage advantage, with 12 percent of voters not supporting either candidate.
Michael Binder, a political science professor at the University of North Florida and director of its public opinion research lab, commented on these results in The Guardian, stating, “Despite historically high approval in the polls, Governor DeSantis losing steam in his home state doesn’t bode well for his national campaign. Even if you wipe out the rest of the competition in a head-to-head, Trump leads DeSantis by 20 points.”