A former Trump official has formed a political action committee to urge Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis to run for president in 2024.
Former acting Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said he has spoken to “grassroots conservative activists” who are excited about a DeSantis run.
“The energy is there, grassroots conservatives see the governor as a leader and a warrior with a winning conservative track record that will lead the Republican Party to victory in 2024,” Cuccinelli said in a press release announcing the formation of the Never back down PAC.
“Based on those conversations, I am confident that we will build an unparalleled grassroots political army for Governor DeSantis to help carry him to the White House.”
Cuccinelli, a constitutional attorney who served in the Trump administration from 2019 to 2021, told Fox News Digital that he came to the decision to support DeSantis because of an “America first perspective” that DeSantis is the best candidate for the country.
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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis delivers remarks at the annual Leadership Meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, Saturday, November 19, 2022. (Kyle Mazza/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
“What’s best for America? I conclude pretty easily that Governor DeSantis is the best Republican executive we’ve had in decades and is exactly the person who can best lead us, not just to win in 24, but to do well to lead as president, to be a great president,” Cuccinelli said, adding that DeSantis is the “strongest Republican there is.”
“He’s head and shoulders above the rest of the field in that regard, so this isn’t a negative for anyone else; it’s just an acknowledgment of how good Governor DeSantis is.”
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Ken Cuccinelli, former acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, speaks during an interview with Bloomberg Television in Washington, D.C. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Cuccinelli said that while “a lot of people are making noise,” few have had the “positive impact” that DeSantis has had in Florida.
“Ordinary people in Florida, the third largest state, the largest swing state in America, have already concluded this,” Cuccinelli told Fox News Digital. “The hundreds of thousands of people he flipped from voting against him to voting for him are a great baseline measure of his achievements.”
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Former President Trump speaks at the East Palestine Fire Department in East Palestine, Ohio on February 22, 2023 (Rebecca Droke/AFP via Getty Images)
Cuccinelli cited the actions DeSantis took to revoke Disney’s special status in the state amid allegations that the company became directly involved in politics as an example that the governor “never backs down.
DeSantis is widely expected by many political pundits to prepare for a 2024 presidential run, putting him on a collision course with Trump, who announced his campaign to return to the White House in November.
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Since Trump’s announcement, the former president has taken multiple shots at DeSantis, including using the nickname “Ron DeSanctimonious,” while DeSantis has refrained from taking direct shots but has addressed Trump’s criticisms several times.
Republican voters polled by Fox News in mid-February backed Trump, who is still very popular with GOP voters, over DeSantis by a margin of 43% to 28%, shortly before Trump lifted the Conservative’s straw poll in early March. Political Action Conference won with 60% of the vote compared to DeSantis at 20%.
Other recent polls suggest more Republicans want DeSantis to be leader of the party and Cuccinelli told Fox News Digital that no other Republican has the “crossover pull” that DeSantis does “without moving an inch away from his conservative principles.”
Andrew Mark Miller is a writer at Fox News. Find him on Twitter @andymarkmiller and email tips to [email protected]