‘You Don’t Think It’s A Fair Question?’: Matt Gaetz Spars With DeSantis PAC Founder Over Campaign Struggles, Finances


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Republican Florida Rep. and Newsmax host Matt Gaetz confronted the founder of the Never Back Down PAC on Thursday over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ underwhelming performance in the 2024 presidential race so far.

Gaetz grilled Ken Cuccinelli on the state of the DeSantis campaign. Gaetz pointed to DeSantis’ disappointing poll numbers and the significant number of layoffs from his campaign staff. (RELATED: DeSantis 2024 Campaign Announces Mass Layoffs)

“What do you think has gone wrong?” Gaetz asked.

Cuccinelli said that he doesn’t think anything has gone wrong, and agrees with the DeSantis’ campaign decision to cut staff. He said they were right to go with a more “insurgent approach” to the campaign trail.

“Well, why didn’t they start that way, Ken? Wait — wait. If lean and insurgent was the right approach, why didn’t the DeSantis campaign just begin that way?” Gaetz asked.

Gaetz pressed Cuccinelli on why they did not go with an “insurgency” strategy from the beginning of the campaign. Cuccinelli defended DeSantis’ campaign again, saying that he believed it was still early enough for the Florida governor to win the primary.

“Does he enjoy it, Ken?” Gaetz asked.

“Does Ron DeSantis enjoy campaigning?” Gaetz followed up.

Gaetz pointed out that he worked closely with DeSantis when he was running for Florida governor and that he traveled the entire state of Florida alongside him. He said that DeSantis seemed like he enjoyed campaigning back then, but does not seem to be enjoying it now.

“Right now, it just does not look like Ron DeSantis and the people around him are like having fun,” Gaetz said.

The Never Back Down PAC founder underlined DeSantis’ record as governor of Florida, emphasizing it makes him an exceptional candidate for president. (RELATED: DeSantis Accuses Byron Donalds Of ‘Siding With Kamala Harris’ On African American Curriculum)

Gaetz then grilled Cuccinelli on Never Back Down, asking if the purported $200 million in the PAC’s funds would ever be used to support Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin if he were to jump into the GOP primary. Gaetz pointed out that Jeff Rowe, a chief strategist for the PAC, has Youngkin as a client.

“Can you commit tonight that none of the money from the Never Back Down Super PAC will be flipped to support the candidacy of Glenn Youngkin in the event that you guys don’t see DeSantis as a good bet?” Gaetz asked.

Cuccinelli slammed Gaetz as having “conspiracy theories.”

“You know, they didn’t tell me they were bringing me on for your conspiracy theories,” Cuccinelli chided.

Gaetz doubled-down, claiming it is a “fair question” if the money could be used to support another candidate. He pointed out that Cuccinelli has complete control of how the money is spent.

“You have the total control to be able to direct that money, you don’t think it’s a fair question to ask you where it’s going?” Gaetz pushed back.

“We’re committed solely to electing Ron DeSantis as president. That means becoming the nominee first and becoming the president second,” Cuccinelli responded.