When one noted that Never Back Down “chaperoned” DeSantis through the vast majority of the much-hyped “Full Grassley” (92 of the 99 counties he visited), the Florida Governor defended the committee’s “smart” strategy.
“So they have this ground operation that they stood up and a lot of people supported,” DeSantis said. “Obviously, our campaign doesn’t work directly (with them).”
“They do that. They can invite me to different events. But I think the idea was that they would be able to really focus on this organization. And it’s been very, very … I think they’re getting close to 40,000 commits to caucus,” DeSantis added. “You know, that’s an incredible number.”
The Governor noted that, in part due to the super PAC’s efforts, “people are organized throughout all these 99 counties.”
“That’s how you do well here. And I think that people, when you look at it, it’s like, ‘OK, we know the history of these caucuses, the people that have that organization overperform, the people that don’t underperform. So I think it was smart that they did that. I think that’s how you have to do it.”
“So I think that that organization has been good, but that’s the type of thing where there’s investments and people say, oh, they’re doing this or doing that. And you’re not necessarily going to see that until the actual caucus night,” DeSantis added. “And I do think you’re going to, I think people are going to be happy with it.”
Never Back Down has seen a number of key departures in recent weeks, including DeSantis’ erstwhile roommate Adam Laxalt, interim CEO Kristin Davison, and spokesperson Erin Perrine. DeSantis didn’t volunteer his take on the internal drama of that operation, though allies of his have set up another super PAC: “Fight Right.” That group reportedly will focus on targeting Nikki Haley.
DeSantis’ campaign has also criticized Never Back Down’s ad buys, in another sign of dysfunction, an especially glaring one given that more than $82 million of unused funds from his state-level political committee was entrusted to the organization this Spring.
During the same interview, DeSantis noted that “people who worked for” him have decided to “pay their own way to Iowa to go out and knock doors,” with “a lot of people that have done that.”
“They’re all in our corner, and all of them realize that we’ve been able to accomplish a lot of great stuff,” DeSantis said, adding that he is “proud of the fact that we have so many people that work for us that have been willing on their own dime to come up here, knock on doors and tell the story.”
“And it’s interesting, I was talking to one of our budget guys and he was knocking on the door of a potential caucus goer. And, and the caucus goer really had some, some like very targeted questions about Florida’s budget surplus. Well, he helped generate it, so he was able to answer their questions.”