Trump adviser declares 'death of DeSantis campaign' after debate

 August 25, 2023

President Trump's 2024 campaign declared Ron DeSantis the big loser of Wednesday night's debate in Milwaukee, with adviser Jason Miller telling Meet the Press that the "DeSanctimonious" campaign is over. 

“We saw the death of Ron DeSantis’s campaign tonight as Vivek Ramaswamy leapfrogged him into second place,” Miller said.

DeSantis done?

Vivek Ramaswamy, a vocal defender of Trump, stole the spotlight and was the focus of many jabs from the other candidates, including Nikki Haley, Chris Christie and Mike Pence.

DeSantis, despite being the top-polling candidate on the stage, largely flew under the radar as candidates directed their jabs at Ramaswamy.

While many expected DeSantis to go after Ramaswamy, DeSantis played it safe and stuck to touting his record as governor of Florida.

After a difficult stretch on the campaign trail, it wasn't enough for DeSantis to "tread water" during his first debate, Miller said.

"DeSantis, it didn’t do good enough for him to tread water. He had to have a breakout moment, and Ramaswamy completely outshone him.”


Trump was criticized by his Republican rivals for skipping the debate to sit down for an interview with Tucker Carlson, but Miller called it a "genius" move. The interview has since received over 250 million views.

Miller joked that DeSantis "skipped the debate" as well, knocking his low-key performance.

“I knew [former] President Trump wasn’t going to be there tonight,” Miller said on MSNBC. “I didn’t know Ron DeSantis was going to skip the debate as well.”

Awkward moments

Once hailed as the only viable primary challenger to President Trump, DeSantis has struggled since launching his campaign in May.

Critics have called the governor awkward and cold - an observation DeSantis helped fuel Wednesday with an uncomfortable smile that went viral.

Supporters of President Trump accused DeSantis of cowardice over moments of indecision. DeSantis appeared to check the responses from other candidates first when they were asked if they would support Trump even if he is convicted of a crime. The governor also appeared to waver when asked if Mike Pence did the right thing on January 6th.

Still, a poll from Washington Post, Ipsos and FiveThirtyEight found that most Republican voters believe DeSantis won the debate, with 29 percent saying he was the winner. Ramaswamy came in second at 26 percent.

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