Amidst the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has secured a significant endorsement that could sway the party dynamics.
Iowa’s Governor Kim Reynolds, also a Republican, officially backed DeSantis on Monday. Despite lagging significantly behind former President Donald Trump in numerous national surveys, this endorsement could be a turning point for the Florida governor.
DeSantis took to social media platform X, sharing a 5-minute excerpt from Governor Reynolds’ endorsement announcement. He expressed his gratitude for the support from “Iowa’s great governor, @KimReynoldsIA,” praising her leadership and ability to achieve tangible results. He declared, “Together, we will win Iowa,” in a message accompanying the video.
In her endorsement speech, Reynolds brought up multiple points that the DeSantis campaign believes to be Trump’s vulnerabilities—points that might resonate with the Republican base to varying degrees.
Governor Reynolds commenced by pointing out the differences between the candidates’ character and priorities and emphasizing the need for a leader who focuses on the country rather than personal gain. Afterward, she confirmed DeSantis as that leader amid enthusiastic applause.
She then pivoted to DeSantis’ response to the COVID-19 crisis. DeSantis has won over conservatives who value freedom, many of whom had praised his resistance to lockdown measures. Reynolds recounted the intense pressure from all sides, including the White House, to impose strict pandemic restrictions. She lauded DeSantis for standing his ground, suggesting he was guided by true science rather than the advice of experts like Dr. Fauci.
Reynolds further praised DeSantis’ general leadership prowess, declaring him one of the most effective leaders she has witnessed.
She also vouched for his staunch pro-life stance, underscoring his understanding of the importance of life from its inception. The Iowa governor closed her speech by underscoring DeSantis’ electability, which she deemed of utmost importance.
Politically, the alliance between Reynolds and DeSantis makes strategic sense, considering their electoral histories. Reynolds narrowly won her governorship in 2018 but secured a decisive victory in her reelection bid. DeSantis had a similar experience, narrowly winning in 2018 and cruising to victory in 2022.
Reynolds’ speech laid out the strategic approach DeSantis supporters are likely to take: highlighting their candidate’s perceived strengths in areas like the COVID response and abortion policy while noting Trump’s perceived vulnerabilities. Reynolds offered her belief that DeSantis is “someone who, most importantly, can win.”
Despite these successes, it’s unclear how much influence Reynolds’ endorsement will exert, especially in light of Trump’s significant polling lead over DeSantis in Iowa and even in Florida. Trump’s image as resilient in the face of legal challenges and his actions on issues such as abortion have endeared him to his base. Predictions of electability may not resonate with voters longing for a return to the pre-Trump Republican era.