When an organization chooses a motto as a name, it’s practically an invitation to twist the slogan into mockery when opportunities for criticism arise. Such is the case for Never Back Down, the super-PAC promoting Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida for president. Never Back Down officials announced Wednesday they would back down from its current door knocking operations in four major primary states. The move away from such key strategic areas unsurprisingly led to conjecture on the status of DeSantis’s presidential campaign. On social media, some expressed the predictable joke based off the super-PAC’s brand name.
“Safe to say they are Backing Down” is the punchline. While ceasing operations in select locations may be part of a long term plan, it makes for bad optics to be seen as retreating under the current conditions of the DeSantis campaign. The announcement came after a series of recent, negative news about DeSantis. Over the last month, DeSantis slipped to third place in some polling. There were claims he was overshadowed by pro-Trump chants at the Iowa State Fair. DeSantis faced additional push back after referring to certain, outspoken Trump supporters as “listless vessels.” Together, these stories could easily suggest a collapsing campaign. The reality of Never Back Down’s reallocation of resources is obviously much more complicated. As reported by NBC News, Never Back Down ended its door knocking outreach operations in Nevada and California. The door knocking operations ended weeks ago in North Carolina and Texas. All four of these states are early participants in the run up to the 2024 presidential election. Nevada holds a Republican caucus on February 8, 2024. The other three states are considered key battlegrounds in the March 5, 2024, Super Tuesday primaries. It does seem counterproductive to willingly walk away from the grassroots connections door knocking creates. It could be a sign the DeSantis campaign is struggling financially after failing to rise in the polls. However, the DeSantis campaign explained the rationale behind ceasing operations in the four states for now. They are ramping up operations in three states with earlier primaries: Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Iowa’s Republican caucus is January 15. New Hampshire has not set a date, but it is presumed its primary will be in January. South Carolina’s primary is February 24. Never Back Down spokeswoman Erin Perrine said, “We want to reinvest in the first three,” noting the results in those states will influence the outcome of March primary results. According to Perrine, changes made in Nevada and California made the states less competitive. Perrine noted revisions made in Nevada’s primary process caused confusion, alleging it was done to assist Donald Trump’s chances in the race. According to NBC, “Perrine blasted Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald as a ‘Trump puppet’ who is ‘conducting that caucus/primary, primary/caucus routine that he’s doing.’” Perrine said, “When you have that kind of uncertainty about how the election’s going to be conducted, that becomes a pretty unstable environment to be investing the kind of resources that we’re investing.” McDonald has denied any bias, saying they are making changes to address concerns about voter fraud. The Nevada GOP has appealed to the state Supreme Court to determine how the election will be run. California also had changes to its delegate allocation. The Los Angeles Times reported the state Republican Party switched from awarding delegates by congressional district to a winner takes all 169 delegates outcome, as long as the candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote. Perrine said the changes were “Trump inspired rigging.” A senior advisor to Trump’s campaign, Chris LaCivita, responded to the NBC News reporting with another spoof on the DeSantis super-PAC, calling them “Always Back Down.” Still, Never Back Down sources emphasized they had already completed a pass of door knocking operations in the states they are leaving. They also say door knocking teams could return to those states again later. DeSantis has also had some positive press lately, with strong fundraising and assertive leadership during Hurricane Idalia. It’s possible Never Back Down will, in fact, be back up. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
Safe to say they are Backing Down— Mike Smitty 🇺🇸 (@gettinolda) August 31, 2023