EXCLUSIVE – Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida will travel next month to New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary – and second contest overall – in the GOP presidential nominating calendar.
DeSantis will headline the New Hampshire GOP’s annual Amos Tuck Dinner on April 14, in Manchester, the Granite State’s largest city. The announcement was shared first with Fox News on Monday.
The dinner is the state Republican Party’s largest annual fundraising gala. Tuck is considered by many to have founded the Republican Party in the 1850s in Exeter, New Hampshire.
News of the trip by DeSantis to New Hampshire follows his jam-packed Friday swing through Iowa, the governor’s first visit ever to the state whose caucuses lead off the Republican presidential primary and caucus schedule. And on Saturday, DeSantis held an event in Nevada, the state that votes fourth in the GOP calendar. Sources tell Fox News that a stop by the governor in South Carolina, which holds the third Republican nominating contest, is likely in the coming weeks.
DESANTIS MAKES FIRST TRIP TO FLORIDA AS HE FLIRTS WITH 2024 RUN
Florida’s 44-year-old governor saw his popularity soar among conservatives across the country over the past three years due to his forceful pushback against coronavirus pandemic restrictions and his aggressive actions as a culture warrior going after media, corporations and teachers’ unions. The governor won an overwhelming 19-point gubernatorial re-election victory in November, and in recent speeches, he has been spotlighting that his policy victories in Florida can serve as a roadmap for the entire nation.
TRUMP AND DESANTIS NECK AND NECK IN NEW POLL IN STATE THAT KICKS OFF 2024 GOP CALENDAR
Sources in DeSantis’ wider orbit have said any presidential campaign launch would come in the late spring or early summer, after the end of the current legislative session. However, the governor’s latest travel itinerary is sparking more speculation about an increasingly probable White House run. Friday’s trip to Iowa came days after the start of the legislative session, where DeSantis aims to chalk up more conservative victories, thanks in part to a newly elected GOP supermajority in Tallahassee.
The governor is also traveling across the country, highlighting his “Florida blueprint” and promoting his newly released memoir, “The Courage to Be Free.” DeSantis touted on Friday that “I’m proud to say this is the number one best-selling non-fiction book in the country. There’s a lot of people who are very annoyed with that fact.”
On the eve of his Iowa trip, the Washington Post — citing two sources familiar with his comments — reported that DeSantis had described his plans to run for president without adding any caveats which would suggest he is still deciding on whether to launch a campaign.
When asked about his 2024 timeline two weeks ago on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” DeSantis pointed to the upcoming legislative session and his book tour and said, “Those are what we’re going to be doing over these next few months. As we get beyond that, then we can decide from there.”
DESANTIS AIMING FOR MORE CONSERVATIVE VICTORIES IN FLORIDA WHILE HITTING TRAIL ACROSS COUNTRY
Early polling in the GOP nomination race indicates DeSantis trailing only former President Donald Trump, and far ahead of the rest of the actual and likely other potential 2024 Republican White House rivals.
The former president, who in mid-November launched his third White House run, was the headline speaker at the New Hampshire GOP’s annual meeting, in late January. And on Monday, he returns to Iowa for the first time this cycle.
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Two other declared Republican presidential candidates – former ambassador and former two-term South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and multi-millionaire entrepreneur, best-selling author, conservative commentor and culture wars crusader Vivek Ramaswamy, have also campaigned in recent weeks in both Iowa and New Hampshire.
On the eve of his visit to New Hampshire, DeSantis will be in suburban Cincinnati, to headline Butler County Ohio GOP’s annual Lincoln Day dinner,