Cavuto Presses DeSantis Amid Crumbling Poll Numbers

When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis entered the 2024 GOP presidential primary, he was widely seen as the most viable alternative to former President Donald Trump and occupied a steady, if distant, spot in second place. In recent months, however, he has seen his status slip substantially.

In one recent national poll, support for DeSantis fell into single-digit territory and he was tied with former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, who has seen a boost in the polls following performances in the first two debates. The two were also tied at 16% each in a new Iowa poll ahead of that state’s influential primary caucuses.

During an interview on Fox News, “Your World” anchor Neil Cavuto asked DeSantis if Haley’s surge might be enough to force him out of the race.

“Nikki Haley has emerged as a strong polling favorite,” Cavuto said. “She’s tied with you in Iowa, and that has come really following her very tough talk of not only supporting Israel and Ukraine but backing them both up with money they need and not debating the issue.”
While Haley’s hawkish foreign policy proposals have earned her some criticism from many in the conservative wing of the party, she has increasingly appealed to the anti-Trump Republican donor class.

“Now, do you fear your kind of threading the needle on this is hurting you — that she’s clear, you’re not, she’s gaining, you’re not?” Cavuto asked in reference to DeSantis’ more nuanced, if not equivocal, foreign policy positions. “She’s seen as an acceptable number two to Donald Trump. You’re not.”

The governor pushed back against Cavuto’s assessment, claiming that he has been “much clearer” than Haley on the topic of Israel.

“I mean, I said from the beginning, no Gaza refugees,” he said. “You know, she said that America has been able to separate terrorists from freedom fighters and that’s what we have to do now. She backtracked on that. But I’ve been very clear: no refugees.”

Cavuto used prior statements from DeSantis against him, noting that the governor previously argued that “it would be a good idea to narrow this down to two or three people” asking: “If you don’t emerge as one of those two or three, would you step out of this race?”

Noting that he respected Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to suspend his campaign, DeSantis rejected the notion that he would lose his status as a leading alternative to Trump.

He claimed that the race is “not about the polls” and predicted that he would emerge victorious in Iowa.

“You know, I’m in it all the way, so you’re going to be seeing a lot of me,” DeSantis concluded.