DeSantis, eyeing 2024, holds conference with key GOP figures

Author: Fin Gómez / CBS News
Gov. Ron DeSantis attends a media event regarding the 2022 Florida Python Challenge, June 16, 2022, in Miami. LYNNE SLADKY / AP

Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been maneuvering for a potential 2024 White House run, held a day-long conference in Fort Lauderdale with several prominent Republican governors and candidates in late June, a source close to one of the attendees confirmed to CBS News.

Those in attendance included Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee. Former Trump White House press secretary and current Arkansas GOP gubernatorial nominee Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Nevada Republican gubernatorial nominee Adam Laxalt were also at the “informal” Florida meetings.

The networking conference connected the prominent Republicans with DeSantis donors and conservative media figures.

The meeting was first reported by Politico. DeSantis has been increasing his national presence as he considers a possible 2024 presidential bid.

DeSantis’ team did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.

In recent GOP presidential polls – including a New York Times and Siena College poll published Tuesday – DeSantis is the only potential GOP 2024 aspirant who nets double digits from party primary voters against former President Donald Trump, who still leads well above the rest of the potential 2024 field. In that poll, 49% went for Trump in 2024 as opposed to DeSantis, who had 25%, and the rest, like former VP Mike Pence, were in the single digits.

However, that same poll showed that “nearly half the party’s primary voters are seeking someone different” for president in 2024 than Trump “and a significant number vowing to abandon him if he wins the nomination.”

In a statement responding to the new poll that also shows Trump losing to President Joe Biden 44% to 41%, the former president attacked The New York Times for “Fake polls, phony stories, and made up quotes—they are a disgrace to journalism and have set it back many many years. THE NEW YORK TIMES IS TRULY THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

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