- An audio leak from FloridaPolitics.com revealed that donors were concerned about DeSantis’ abortion ban.
- The DeSantis campaign shared talking points with fundraisers on how to discuss the issue.
- They said it would matter less to voters than Biden’s age and predicted a recession.
DeSantis 2024 campaign predicts voters deciding general election will care more about economic turmoil and President Joe Biden’s age in general election, outweighing issue of abortion rights, leaked audio claims obtained by FloridaPolitics.com.
The admission sheds light on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign strategy as he begins his early voting tour next week. DeSantis would be 45 when elected while Biden would be just under 82.
“If you are a voter in 2024, because we are probably in a historic recession, and you choose between a young candidate – Ron DeSantis – and an octogenarian, and if you vote on the issue of abortion as one of the two main issues, our data suggests that this person has a very strong correlation with typical Democratic voting behavior,” said DeSantis campaign pollster Ryan Tyson.
He made the comments during a presentation from DeSantis campaign aides who shared talking points and polls with bundlers — a term in the political world that refers to people who solicit their contacts for lots of donations. The bundlers had gathered at the Four Seasons in Miami for a two-day call marathon.
Two consolidators have raised concerns about how to talk about abortion rights when appealing to donors for campaign contributions. One said he called donors whose “girls and women were upset” and another said he called donors who said they liked DeSantis “when he was more at middle” but feared he had gone too far to the right. This donor said he saw nods from others in the room who received similar responses.
Tyson warned that Democrats will campaign on abortion “regardless of your position”. He argued that being anti-abortion was just “a killer blow if you’re a piss-poor candidate”. As evidence, he cited Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican who signed a six-week abortion ban and still soundly beat his Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams.
“What the 2022 general election has proven is that if you’re a good candidate, you can survive this,” Tyson said, though he didn’t mention Kemp signed the bill. before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Still, there are signs that DeSantis’ anti-abortion record is seen as a vulnerability. DeSantis signed a near-total abortion bill into law just before midnight last month, without a public ceremony, and pressured former President Donald Trump to say whether he would have signed the bill. The law prohibits abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and will go into effect if the state Supreme Court upholds the 15-week abortion ban that DeSantis enacted last year.
On Monday night, DeSantis defended the six-week law as “the right thing to do” and intended to “protect an unborn child who has a detectable heartbeat,” referring to the time in pregnancy when an embryo has cardiac activity.
But when Fox News’ Trey Gowdy asked him about his anti-abortion stance as president, DeSantis suggested that should be decided by state lawmakers. Tyson highlighted the response at the donor meeting, though abortion advocates criticized Trump when the Washington Post reported that he told his advisers privately that abortion rights should be decided by the states.
“While there are ways for the federal government to preserve life, the best way to preserve abortion is at the state level,” Tyson said, articulating the governor’s position. “If the federal government starts getting involved in abortion, it will actually open the door for Democrats to roll back pro-life reforms in many states across the country.”
Tyson said voters who like “average” politicians include 2024 candidates Nikki Haley, the former UN ambassador, and Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas. These voters were looking for someone “thoughtful” and “sensitive”, he said in a singsong voice.
“They just don’t have enough math,” Tyson concluded, meaning most of the GOP primary electorate is more conservative. “I have to win a primary to be in a general,” he added when pushed by a donor for talking points. Toward the end of the conversation, however, he acknowledged, “I completely understand how difficult it is when talking to a pro-choice donor.”
Whether a strict ban is a general election or even a presidential primary killer remains an open question, though the question has proven to hurt congressional Republicans during the 2022 midterms.
In addition to the talking points, someone in the room who Insider couldn’t identify with their voice falsely said that “abortions happen with plan B,” urging donors to point out that most people had access to contraception. Plan B is a preventative type of birth control known as “emergency contraception” and does not induce an abortion.
“I don’t think if you talk to a pro-choice voter you jump on it,” he said. “You have to point out that this is a major step forward for the Republican Party in terms of moving to the middle on abortion.” It’s unclear how the DeSantis team came to view a six-week ban as common ground, as polls show most Americans supporting abortion for weeks past the six-week mark, but until a certain point.