It’s been obvious to almost anyone paying attention that Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign is struggling to get out of first gear. Well, when Steve Schmidt saw an article on Bloomberg about how morale is cratering on Team Never Back Down, he believed it was evidence that DeSantis is circling the drain.
A number of aides told Bloomberg that DeSantis is struggling to settle on “a coherent strategy and message.” They added that several members of the campaign team are “pursuing their own agendas” and not talking to each other. Additionally, certain official statements can’t go out on social media without the personal approval of either DeSantis or his wife, Casey—a process that can drag out for as long as two days.
One of the few people who didn’t ask for anonymity was Whit Ayres, who managed DeSantis’ 2018 campaign for governor. Ayres said that DeSantis “has a hard time dealing with people”—an observation that definitely checks out, given reports of DeSantis’ awkward and prickly personality.
When Schmidt saw this, one thing that jumped out at him right away was that the story was based on interviews with anonymous aides. On his podcast, “The Warning,” he saw it as a sign of a campaign in utter collapse.
Watch Schmidt discuss his findings here.
Schmidt said that based on his experience, the sheer number of leaks is a sign that DeSantis’ campaign is “disintegrating.” As he put it, whenever you see a lot of leaks from a campaign, it’s evidence of “a collapse of discipline, of teamwork.” And it’s even more telling considering that those leaks are coming from the very people responsible for DeSantis’ abortive efforts to “reset” his campaign.
Part of the problem, as Schmidt sees it, is DeSantis’ tendency to micromanage everything. He believes that DeSantis’ standing order that either he or Casey must approve most official statements on social media is a sign of “a paranoid style of decision-making” and “a culture of distrust.” Schmidt was also flabbergasted at Ayres’ assessment that DeSantis doesn’t deal with people very well; as Schmidt sees it, liking people is an essential part of being president.
DeSantis has billed himself as an electable version of Donald Trump. But Schmidt believes DeSantis will be remembered for picking a fight with Disney and starting a “jihad” against public education in Florida. Apparently DeSantis forgot that the American people rejected Trumpism in both 2020 and 2022—and have no stomach for a repackaged version.