Florida governor Ron DeSantis (R) has gone viral with his animated reaction to being asked about his recent downturn in the polls.
The Donald Trump rival said he's not putting stock in current trends because he's "not a candidate."
"I’m not a candidate, so we’ll see if and when that changes,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis made the comment while visiting Tokyo on an international tour. The governor's unusually expressive body language drew a response on social media.
"I'm not a candidate, so we'll see if and when that changes," Gov. DeSantis, who is in Japan right now, says when asked about polls that show him falling behind Trump. pic.twitter.com/nDVeyBoVHN
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) April 24, 2023
DeSantis is widely seen as the only serious primary threat to Trump. The former president has branded his rival, who has been crisscrossing the U.S. on a book tour, an absentee governor who is running a "shadow campaign."
While DeSantis says he's "not a candidate," allies like Thomas Massie (R-KY) are anxious for him to declare a campaign.
"I would prefer him to be in the race right now. In fact, I encouraged him to get in the race right now,” Massie, who endorsed DeSantis, said.
Months ago, DeSantis was riding high on a thundering re-election victory. Since then, a number of factors have changed the tide, from Trump's unprecedented indictment to moves from DeSantis that some are calling unforced errors.
The governor's shifting statements on the war in Ukraine, which he initially called a "territorial dispute," and his enactment of a six-week abortion ban have reportedly left some Republican donors, like billionaire Ken Griffin, with second thoughts.
A new poll from Morning Consult shows that Trump is 37 points ahead of DeSantis with primary voters, Trump's widest lead yet. DeSantis is also losing an endorsement tally against Trump, including in Florida, where seven Republican lawmakers have endorsed Trump compared to one for DeSantis.
The latest sting for DeSantis came Monday when Republican rising star Lee Zeldin endorsed Trump. Zeldin was an early Trump backer in 2016 but the former New York congressman had recently been developing closer ties with DeSantis, or so it seemed.
DeSantis is expected to launch his campaign next month when Florida's legislative session ends.