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They’re two relatively young and very high-profile governors of large states who have knack for grabbing national attention and firing up the bases of the respective political parties.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida are once again in the spotlight this weekend, sparking more speculation about their 2024 intentions.
DeSantis, whose popularity has soared among conservatives in Florida and across the country the past two and a half years, courtesy of his forceful pushback against coronavirus pandemic restrictions and his aggressive actions as a culture wars warrior, sparked a new controversy earlier this week by flying Venezuelan migrants to the progressive bastion of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
While igniting outrage among Democrats, the calculated move spotlighted the combustible issue of illegal immigration and border security, which fires up the GOP base but also connects with independent voters who may be frustrated with the Biden administration efforts in handling the surge in border crossings into the U.S. over the past year and a half.
File photos of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California (left) and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida (right) (Getty)
Newsom, who asked the Justice Department to investigate both DeSantis and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas — who’s transported migrants to progressive cities such as New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C. — accuses the conservative governors of using the migrants as “political pawns.”
On Friday, Newsom challenged DeSantis to a debate, which triggered a war of words on Twitter between the Newsom and DeSantis camps.
Newsom has been as crafty in recent months as DeSantis in grabbing national attention, trolling both the Florida governor and Abbott with ads in their states. And this past week, Newsom captured the spotlight once again by putting up billboards in several red states where abortion is now restricted, highlighting that California is a haven for legalized abortion. The move further bolstered his push as a champion for reproductive rights, which is a top issue with many in his party’s base in the wake of June’s move by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to up end the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion ruling.
While the 2024 presidential election may end up being a rematch of the 2020 contest between President Biden and former President Trump, if the two 70-somethings don’t end up running, DeSantis, Newsom, and others in the next generation are using creative ways to raise their national profiles.
“Traditionally, with the run-up to midterm elections, political eyes turn to the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire for signs of presidential candidate activity. And while those visits are happening, a new trend is emerging among those who are looking at potential runs that is nationalizing their potential candidacies,” veteran political scientist Wayne Lesperance noted.
“Both Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis have taken to the national airwaves with their brands of politics on the issue of immigration. It’s smart and, perhaps most importantly, it’s free air-time that’s designed to appeal to the bases of their parties. And, it’s working,” added Lesperance, who is vice president of academic affairs at the New Hampshire based New England College. “The nationalization of our presidential primary process has begun. Newsom and DeSantis are first in. Others will follow.”
Are DeSantis’ 2022 trips ‘laying the groundwork’ for 2024?
As he runs for re-election in November, DeSantis is once again on the campaign on Sunday — outside of Florida. DeSantis will be in Kansas and Wisconsin, headlining rallies for those state’s GOP gubernatorial nominees -Derek Schmidt and Tim Michels — that were organized by the conservative group Turning Point Action.
“Governor DeSantis is America’s Governor and one of the most popular leaders in the country. He has become the model for a new conservative movement that is willing to stand on principle and to actually fight on behalf of the values of his voters,” Turning Point Action founder and president Charlie Kirk said in a statement.
The swing follows a similar one last month, when DeSantis traveled to Arizona to campaign with gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake and Senate nominee Blake Masters, to Pennsylvania to stump with gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, and to Ohio to team up with Senate nominee JD Vance. Lake, Masters, Mastriano, Vance, Schmidt and Michels all won their Republican nominations thanks in part to crucial endorsements by Trump.
The DeSantis trips are definitely being noticed by the former president.
“Trump blew a gasket” when DeSantis teamed up with Lake, a source in the former president’s political orbit told Fox News. And the teaming up of DeSantis and Kirk — who’s a Trump ally and very close with Donald Trump Jr. — is also “not going unnoticed,” the source added.
While in the Badger State on Sunday, DeSantis is also expected to meet with billionaire Wisconsin based businesswoman and GOP mega donor Diane Hendricks, according to a veteran GOP consultant who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely.
“This is not about helping other candidates, it’s about helping Ron DeSantis,” the consultant charged. “This is all Ron laying the groundwork” for 2024.
DeSantis’ political team declined to confirm or deny the governor’s meeting with Hendricks.
Former President Donald Trump welcomes JD Vance, Republican candidate for U.S. Senator for Ohio, to the stage at a campaign rally in Youngstown, Ohio., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar) (AP )
Trump was also on the trail this weekend, holding a large rally in Ohio on behalf of Vance.
Pompeo spotlights his 2024 team
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo returns this week to New Hampshire, the state that for a century’s held the first primary in the race for the White House.
Pompeo on Tuesday will headline the latest edition of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics’ “Politics and Eggs.” The speaking series at St. Anselm College, just west of Manchester, has been a must-stop for nearly a quarter-century for actual and potential White House hopefuls of both major parties.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo keynotes the Hillsborough County, New Hampshire GOP’s annual Lincoln-Reagan fundraising dinner, in Manchester, N.H. on April 7, 2022. (Fox News )
The West Point graduate and Army armor and calvary officer stationed in West Germany during the Cold War who was later elected to Congress from Kansas before serving as CIA director and America’s top diplomat in former President Trump’s administration, has also made numerous stops the past year and a half in Iowa, South Carolina, and Nevada, the other three early voting states in the Republican presidential nominating calendar.
Pompeo, a Fox News contributor, has repeatedly said that he’ll make a decision on 2024 following the November midterm elections.
But this past week, speaking to the Navy Seal Foundation Midwest Evening of Tribute in Chicago, Pompeo revealed more about his potential White House run.
“We’ve got a team in Iowa, a team in New Hampshire and South Carolina. And that’s not random. We are doing the things one would do to get ready,” Pompeo shared.
And taking a friendly jab his former boss, Pompeo joked that “unlike others, if I go down an escalator, no one will notice.”
Pompeo was refering to Trump’s famous ride down an escalator at Trump Tower in New York City in 2015 as he announced his White House run.
Pence stops in New Hampshire to boost the general
Former Vice President Mike Pence returned to New Hampshire on Wednesday evening, to headline a fundraiser for former Army Gen. Don Bolduc, who hours earlier narrowly won the Republican Senate nomination in the key general battleground state.
Bolduc will face former governor and first-term Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan in November’s midterm elections in a Senate race that may determine if the GOP wins back the chamber’s majority.
Former Vice President Mike Pence headlines a fundraiser for New Hampshire GOP Senate nominee Don Bolduc, on Sept. 14, 2022 in Wilton, N.H. (Fox News)
“Now is the time for us to unite and come together as a party in New Hampshire, come together as a party all across this country and do what needs to be done. And I’m here to tell you I know we will,” Pence emphasized as he spoke following a just concluded 2022 primary season that experience plenty of turbulent Republican nomination battles.
The trip by Pence, who appears to be moving towards launching a 2024 presidential campaign, was his second this summer and fifth over the past year and a half to New Hampshire. During his last visit to the Granite State, he headlined “Politics and Eggs.”
And two days after his August stop in New Hampshire, Pence made a busy two-day swing through Iowa, whose caucuses have led off the presidential nominating calendar for half a century. The former vice president’s itinerary included another must-stop for White House hopefuls: a visit to the Iowa State Fair.
Hogan evokes Reagan in major international address
Term-limited Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland has also made trips to New Hampshire and Iowa this summer, but this past week he was far from the campaign trail.
Hogan, who’s mulling a White House bid of his own, was in South Korea, where he gave a keynote speech at the Jeju Forum of Peace and Prosperity, an international summit that includes numerous heads of state and former Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Former President Bill Clinton and the late Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev have also previously spoken to the forum.
The Maryland governor urged the world to “stand united behind the enduring value of freedom and democracy” at such a “pivotal moment” in history.
“Many of the other great leaders, like [former President] Reagan, that brought about the peaceful end of the Cold War are no longer with us, and the task of ensuring peace and prosperity in our time now falls to the world leaders here today at the Jeju Forum,” he emphasized in his address.
Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire.