"Defend Donald Trump" and "take a sledgehammer" to Vivek Ramaswamy; that's some of the advice given to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for next week's first GOP presidential debate.
A company linked to the super PAC overseeing DeSantis's 2024 presidential bid has shared online an extensive collection of guidance, research notes, and internal polls focused on early primary states, the New York Times first reported. The information leaked basically shows how DeSantis aims to prepare for the debate scheduled for Wednesday in Milwaukee.
The memo says that their "overarching goals" for next week's debate include:
"1. Attack President Joe Biden and the media 3-5 times.
2. State GRD’s (Gov. Ron DeSantis') positive vision 2-3 times.
3. Hammer Vivek Ramaswamy in response.
4. Defend Donald Trump in absentia in response to a Chris Christie attack."
The memo also outlines a series of "Orchestra Pit Moments," starting with a strategic chance to create drama, including a suggested Trump-esque insult: "Take a sledgehammer to Vivek Ramaswamy: 'Fake Vivek' Or 'Vivek the Fake.'"
The papers were uploaded to Axiom Strategies' site, owned by Jeff Roe, strategist of DeSantis's super PAC, Never Back Down, the New York Times says.
Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who holds the position of House GOP Conference chair, reacted to the news of the memo by posting on social media, "As a former debate prepper, the first and most obvious rule of debate prep is don't leak the debate prep memo. This is absolute malpractice." She continued, "And as I have said from the very beginning, President Trump is going to steamroll the entire field. There is no real primary, and we need to focus on defeating Joe Biden to save America."
Sources close to the Donald Trump 2024 campaign emphasized Stefanik's point that "there is no real primary," a message that the Trump campaign would like to see echoed throughout the conservative space.
The Trump campaign firmly believes that a primary isn't necessary, considering he's the front-runner and the former president, essentially seeing the party as his own. However, the upcoming days will reveal how this perspective translates to actual stage dynamics.
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