Republican campaign strategist Ed Rollins is turning away from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' 2024 presidential campaign, calling DeSantis a "flawed candidate" in a recent Rolling Stone interview.
"I don't think it's the campaign's fault at all; it's his," Rollins told the publication. "I think he's been a very flawed candidate. I know some of the people around him, and some of them are good, talented people.
"But every time he opens his mouth, he has a tendency to — shall we say — think out-loud, and he clearly doesn't understand the game. … When you get into these culture wars the way that he has, the vast majority of people don't understand what they are."
Rollins, an adviser who has worked in several high-profile races, once served as the chief political strategist for the Ready for Ron PAC supporting DeSantis' bid for the White House.
"At this point in time, I would be shocked if Trump were not the nominee," Rollins, 80, said in the article, lamenting that "unless something serious happens," Democrat President Joe Biden appears destined to win reelection.
The Rolling Stone article also included a GOP donor saying that a recent campaign staff shakeup might not be enough to change DeSantis' 2024 political fortunes.
"A top-to-bottom makeover and real accountability may be the only thing that saves Ron DeSantis [in the primary], but even then you still have the governor at the top," the donor said. "And it is getting harder and harder by the day to see not just his people as the problem, but him as the problem."
National Review reported that DeSantis called Rollins' remarks "nonsense" during an interview with Fox News on Monday.
"I came into a state that had been decided by one point for a generation," DeSantis told Bret Baier. "You've covered some of those races. I govern boldly. I govern unapologetically. I delivered big results, and we won by 20 points. You don't win a state like Florida that big if you're not doing things that are resonating."
DeSantis said in the interview that the issues he is fighting for represent the core values of "tens of millions" of citizens.
"And I would push back — when I hear about things, 'Oh, culture war' — standing up for the rights of parents, standing up for the well-being of children, that's not some 'culture war,'" DeSantis said. "That is central to the lives of tens of millions of people throughout this country. It is the right thing to do to stand with our kids."
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