Hundreds of documents laying out Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ campaign strategy have been posted online, including debate prep listing “four basic must-dos,” such as defending former President Donald Trump in absentia and “take a sledgehammer to Vivek Ramaswamy.”
The trove of information was posted on Axiom Strategies, a website owned by Jeff Roe, who serves as the chief strategist of the pro-DeSantis Never Back Down super PAC that has been seemingly leading his political operation.
A memo in the massive batch of documents, first reported by the New York Post, provides blunt advice for the upcoming GOP presidential primary debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“There are four basic must-dos,” the memo explains.
“1. Attack Joe Biden and the media 3-5 times. 2. State GRD’s positive vision 2-3 times. 3. Hammer Vivek Ramaswamy in a response. 4. Defend Donald Trump in absentia in response to a Chris Christie attack.”
A line suggested for “defending Trump” was, “Trump isn’t here, so let’s just leave him alone. He’s too weak to defend himself here. We’re all running against him. I don’t think we want to join forces with someone on this stage who’s auditioning for a show on MSNBC.”
The document explained the “Roger Ailes’ Orchestra Pit Theory,” which is that someone falling on the debate stage will gain more headlines than someone laying out their foreign policy position.
To make headlines, the paper suggested “to take a sledgehammer” Ramaswamy with a Trumpian nickname like “Fake Vivek” Or “Vivek the Fake.” The advice seems to focus on portraying the businessman as not being a real conservative.
Ramaswamy responded to the report on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, writing, “Another boring, establishment attack from Super PAC-creation ‘Robot Ron’ who is literally taking lame, pre-programmed attack lines against me for next week’s debate. ‘Hammer Ramaswamy.'”
Another boring, establishment attack from Super PAC-creation “Robot Ron” who is literally taking lame, pre-programmed attack lines against me for next week’s debate. “Hammer Ramaswamy.” 😂 pic.twitter.com/u8puIW88jS
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) August 17, 2023
The newspaper reports, “After The Times reached out to Never Back Down for comment on Thursday, the group removed from the website a key memo summarizing the suggested strategy for the debate.”
“Super PACs are barred by law from strategizing in private with political campaigns,” the report added. “To avoid running afoul of those rules, it is not unusual for the outside groups to post polling documents in the open, albeit in an obscure corner of the internet where insiders know to look.”
As Timcast reported earlier this week, DeSantis’ support has slumped to the lowest percentage since his campaign began, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll.
Trump remains far ahead of the crowded primary field, with 57 percent support among Republican and Republican-leaning voters.
The national poll, released on Wednesday, found that just 18 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters support the governor.
The pollsters noted, “In February 2023, DeSantis was 6 points behind Trump and now he is 39 points behind.”
The governor recently replaced his campaign manager and laid off one-third of the staff. A total of 38 employees were cut after an “internal review.”
According to the Real Clear Politics average of national polls, DeSantis has support from only 14.6 percent of Republican primary voters, down from 31 percent in late March. Trump maintains 54.8 percent support.