Reeks of desperation: DeSantis super-PAC “secretly” asks for $50M in donations to beat Trump in Republican primary
09/08/2023 // Belle Carter // Views

A political action committee (PAC) backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' presidential campaign recently appealed in secret for $50 million in donations by the end of 2023, reports reveal.

Jeff Roe, the leader of the Never Back Down (NBD) super-PAC behind DeSantis, reportedly issued this plea during a private meeting on Aug. 23. He told participants that the super-PAC would be launched on Sept. 5, the day after Labor Day.

"We need your help to stay up and go hard the rest of the way," said Roe. "Now let me tell you a secret. Don't leak this. We need $50 million."

The chief strategist for the DeSantis campaign gave a Sept. 27 deadline – before the second Republican primary debate – for the initial $50 million. In a bid to paint the situation as dire, Roe even told donors that he would meet them in the Transport Security Administration (TSA) line at the airport to collect their checks.

"We just need your help getting $50 million more by the end of the year and $100 million more by the end of March 2024," NBD CEO Chris Jankowski added during the Aug. 23 meeting. "I'm not worried about the second 50. We need the first 50."

Included in this amount is $5 million monthly budget just to sustain NBD's operation in Iowa. According to the New York Times, former President Donald Trump winning the Jan. 15, 2024 caucuses in the Hawkeye State "could accelerate the end of the [GOP] race."

"We're going to go spend this money right now, betting that our donors won't let us down. And I've been let down by donors a lot," said Roe. "I've already lost once to Trump, and we can't do it again."

In the U.S., PACs such as DeSantis' NBD pool campaign contributions from members and donors. They then allocate those funds to campaigns for or against candidates, ballot initiatives or legislation.

DeSantis fighting a losing battle against Trump

According to Roe, DeSantis needed to separate from all of his other rival candidates "now" and beat Trump "in the next 60 days." While the first prospect may be feasible, the second may not – as the Florida governor will be fighting a losing battle based on polls. The former president has dominated surveys among GOP primary candidates – including DeSantis, which Trump has a double-digit lead against – despite four indictments.

The leader of DeSantis' super-PAC also lamented how Trump's indictments seem to work to his advantage. Every time the former president gets indicted, he gets a boost in media coverage. (Related: Trump will NOT attend any Republican primary debates, but dominates the field anyway.)

"Trump probably gets roughly at least $30 million of earned media every single day. We're No. 2, with roughly $5 million to $6 million every single day," said NBD Chief Operating Officer Kristin Davison.

"Where you see the spikes are after every indictment. After every indictment, it goes up to $100 million of earned media, and in a presidential race, no news is bad news. What we really learned in 2016 is that Trump dominated earned media, and we see it happening now."

A recent poll by the business intelligence company Morning Consult confirmed a huge double-digit gap between Trump and DeSantis. After the first GOP primary debate on Aug. 23, the real estate mogul garnered 58 percent in contrast with DeSantis' 14 percent. Meanwhile, a separate survey found that 62 percent of potential primary voters think Trump has the best chance of beating incumbent President Joe Biden in the 2024 elections.

Visit for more stories about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' presidential campaign

Watch this video highlighting the disorganized DeSantis presidential campaign in contrast with the well-organized Trump campaign.

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