Salem Radio Network News Saturday, September 23, 2023


Casey DeSantis emerges as pivotal figure on 2024 campaign trail

By Nathan Layne

LACONIA, New Hampshire (Reuters) – When Casey DeSantis took to a New Hampshire stage on Thursday to talk about her advocacy work and share anecdotes about the travails of raising small children, Lisa Teeman was among the women in attendance whose face lit up with a smile.

“She is a very strong woman,” said Teeman, a 62-year-old retired IT professional who had come to hear Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ presidential pitch. “I think she can gain votes for him.”

As the Republican governor makes the case for his nascent 2024 campaign this week to voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, his wife of 13 years is emerging as a pivotal figure in his bid to win over supporters of rival Donald Trump.

On the trail in the early voting states, Casey DeSantis, 42, has combined a fierce defense of her husband’s record as governor with anecdotes about the challenges of raising their three children, ages 3, 5 and 6.

Her remarks in the blue-collar New Hampshire city of Laconia elicited a mixture of laughter and applause.

“He doesn’t cower. He never takes the path of least resistance. He always stands up for what’s right,” she said, calling her husband her “better half.”

Some Republican voters said they viewed her personal story – she is a former TV broadcaster who overcame breast cancer – as uplifting and believed that she could help soften the perception of her husband, who has been criticized for being stiff and lacking charisma.

“She just came across as very warm, very caring, very supportive, very intelligent,” said Suzanne Nelson, president of a women’s club in New Hampshire that works to support Republican candidates. “I like what I heard from him, but I think she could make a difference.”

Reuters/Ipsos polling conducted on May 9-15 showed Trump is backed by 49% of Republicans, with Ron DeSantis in a distant second place at 19%.

Casey DeSantis has been credited by DeSantis and others around him as his closest adviser and a partner in his political activities.

Her involvement on the trail could mark a sharp contrast with Trump, who typically holds rallies and other events without his wife, former first lady Melania. Trump’s daughter Ivanka has said she will not participate in his bid for a rematch with Democratic President Joe Biden in 2024.

Jeanette Hoffman, a Republican political consultant, said Casey and her husband also come across as young and energetic in comparison with the Bidens.

“She’s definitely an asset to his campaign,” Hoffman said. “I’m not sure how much of a difference it will make in the primary, but the campaign is smart to use her as an effective surrogate.”

At the Laconia event on Thursday, Casey DeSantis stayed in the main hall longer then her husband, greeting voters and posing for pictures.

Doug Lambert, vice chair of the Republican Party in Belknap, New Hampshire’s most conservative county, said he was impressed with her focus on issues facing children and families. He said her speech had helped solidify his support for the governor.

“Tell me that’s not central casting first lady material,” Lambert said. “She’s the real deal.”

(Reporting by Nathan Layne and Jim Oliphant in Council Bluffs, Iowa; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Christopher Cushing)


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