February 24, 2024

By Steve Peoples and Will Weissert | Related Press

HAMPTON, N.H. — Ron DeSantis has determined to shift his presidential marketing campaign away from New Hampshire simply six days earlier than the state’s first-in-the-nation Republican main whereas his main tremendous PAC executes one other spherical of layoffs, strikes that replicate the Florida governor’s quickly shrinking path to the 2024 GOP nomination.

DeSantis received’t ignore the state utterly over the approaching days, however he’s reallocating the vast majority of his employees to South Carolina, the house state of rival Nikki Haley, with its main in simply over a month. That’s in response to senior marketing campaign officers who spoke to The Related Press on the situation of anonymity to share inner discussions.

On the identical time, the pro-DeSantis tremendous PAC By no means Again Down has transferred a number of of its Iowa staffers to different early states, whereas shedding the remaining. It’s unclear precisely how many individuals have been laid off, though an excellent PAC official talking on the situation of anonymity to debate inner technique mentioned those that misplaced their jobs can be paid by way of the top of January.

The strategic shifts by DeSantis’ operation underscore his weak point within the 2024 Republican nomination race after he completed a distant second to front-runner Donald Trump in Iowa’s caucuses Monday. DeSantis had made Iowa the centerpiece of his White Home bid, but Trump bested him by 30 share factors there. Haley completed 2 share factors behind DeSantis.

Trump seems to be tightening his grip on the GOP nomination, though he could possibly be weak in New Hampshire’s Jan. 23 main. A CNN/College of New Hampshire ballot performed this month discovered that about 4 in 10 probably Republican main voters in New Hampshire selected Trump, whereas about one-third picked Haley.

The previous president set excessive expectations for himself in New Hampshire whereas talking to reporters after a New York court docket look. He famous, nonetheless, that independents are permitted to vote within the New Hampshire main, which makes the citizens there extra reasonable than Iowa’s.

“I feel we’ll do there, possibly just like what we did in Iowa,” Trump mentioned of New Hampshire.

Trump had spent a lot of the day in a Manhattan courtroom, the place a choose threatened to expel him from his civil trial for repeatedly ignoring warnings to maintain quiet whereas author E. Jean Carroll testified that he shattered her popularity after she accused him of sexual abuse. The jury already discovered that Trump sexually abused Carroll within the Nineteen Nineties after which defamed her in 2022.

Trump was set to complete the day at a rally alongside New Hampshire’s coast.

DeSantis’ rivals appeared to benefit from the Florida governor’s struggles.

Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung mentioned in response to the governor’s shift away from New Hampshire, “DeSantis continues to be working?”

Haley’s marketing campaign greeted the information with a dig, too.

“South Carolina is a superb state,” Haley spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas mentioned in an announcement to the AP. “We hope they take pleasure in their trip time right here.”

DeSantis tremendous PAC officers, in the meantime, sought to challenge power, at the same time as they confirmed the brand new job cuts. By no means Again Down has now gone by way of a minimum of three important rounds of job cuts, along with a management shakeup late final yr.

“By no means Again Down continues to host a slew of occasions on the bottom for Gov. DeSantis in South Carolina, New Hampshire, and past aligned with our core mission of mobilizing grassroots area operations in these states,” By no means Again Down CEO Scott Wagner mentioned. “We’ve mobilized a number of members of our sturdy Iowa staff over to the opposite early main states to assist in these efforts and can proceed working to assist elect Gov. DeSantis, the simplest conservative chief within the race, our subsequent president.”

DeSantis was set to return to Florida later Wednesday earlier than returning to New Hampshire on Friday and spending a lot of the weekend in South Carolina.

By shifting towards South Carolina, DeSantis’ staff is attempting to benefit from Haley’s perceived weak point in her residence state, the place Trump seems to have a big benefit over each of them. But DeSantis’ allies imagine that Haley might be compelled to drop out of the race altogether if she loses South Carolina’s Feb. 24 main, giving DeSantis a chance to reemerge as a viable Trump various heading into the sequence of main contests on March 5 generally known as Tremendous Tuesday.

It’s a dangerous technique at greatest.

Haley is campaigning in New Hampshire this week, though she left the state Tuesday evening to go to her ailing father in South Carolina. She’s anticipated to return later within the week.

She’s additionally taking a cautious method on the marketing campaign path.

The previous South Carolina governor has been limiting questions from voters and reporters for a number of weeks. She declined to take part in both New Hampshire debate scheduled over the subsequent week except Trump agreed to be there. He didn’t, and each debates have been canceled.

In the meantime, DeSantis made no point out of the adjustments in his group as he campaigned Wednesday in Hampton, a coastal city the place the seashore bars and memento outlets have been buried underneath piles of plowed snow.

Tom O’Keefe, a retired engineer from close by Nottingham, mentioned he was a previous Trump voter however felt just like the Florida governor or Haley, a former U.N. ambassador, would possibly provide a greater likelihood of beating Democratic President Joe Biden in November.

O’Keefe mentioned DeSantis has not invested as a lot time in New Hampshire as he did in Iowa, which complicates his possibilities of successful right here with lower than every week to go.

“I want he actually may, however I don’t really feel like he has it, and he doesn’t have a lot time,” O’Keefe mentioned about DeSantis’ pulling off a New Hampshire upset. “I’m saying a prayer that he’ll.”

Peoples reported from New York. Related Press author Michelle L. Value in Manchester, New Hampshire, and Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.