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DeSantis’s Zombie Comeback Tour

Can DeSantis pivot to the scrappy town hall strategy, fix his sagging poll numbers, and come back from the dead?
Can DeSantis pivot to the scrappy town hall strategy, fix his sagging poll numbers, and come back from the dead? Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images
Peter Hamby
July 31, 2023

News of a campaign “reset” is often accompanied by the smell of death, and over the last two weeks, the conversation around Ron DeSantis has felt downright funereal. His much-hyped campaign, barely two months old and slipping in the polls, has laid off staffers in an effort to make up for sky-high spending, promised a new shift in tone and performance, and tiptoed into the mainstream media waters DeSantis has shunned for so long, even doing an interview with Jake Tapper on the dreaded CNN. 

DeSantis’s campaign manager, Generra Peck, has fired off a dizzying array of quotes to the press vowing that DeSantis the candidate will march on as a scrappy underdog, ignoring the national noise and going all in on Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. “Going forward, expect fewer podiums and stages and more stops at Pizza Ranches, churches and VFW halls where DeSantis can speak directly to voters with no big platforms or barricades blocking close contact,” Peck told NBC News. DeSantis haters—liberals and Trump supporters, alike—have been chuckling at that concept. The shrill and awkward DeSantis needs to be kept away from voters, not shoved in their faces, they say. “Problem is, they can’t fire their candidate,” a senior Trump adviser told me a few weeks back, basking in schadenfreude.