Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Sunday voiced confidence that he would win the upcoming Iowa caucus next month and pledged to offer an alternative health care plan to Obamacare by the spring as he continues to struggle in the polls ahead of the official start of the GOP presidential nomination contest.
In a wide-ranging interview with NBC’s “Meet The Press,” DeSantis appeared confident that he would come out in first place in the Iowa caucus on Jan. 15, even though he trails former President Donald Trump in the state by over 27 points, according to an average of primary polls compiled by FiveThirtyEight.
“We’re going to win Iowa,” DeSantis said. “I think it’s going to help propel us to the nomination. But I think we’ll have a lot of work that we’ll have to do beyond that. I don’t think you take anything for granted.”
DeSantis predicted that GOP voters eventually will have to pick between him and Trump, appearing to dismiss the other candidates still in the race, including former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, whose popularity has been rising and is well ahead of DeSantis in New Hampshire. Haley also recently secured the endorsement of a super PAC backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, which could boost her candidacy further.
“Ultimately, Republican voters are going to have the choice of Donald Trump, which I think would make the election a referendum on him and a lot of the issues that he’s dealing with, or me, and that will be a referendum on [President Joe] Biden’s failures, on all the issues in the country that are affecting people,” he said.
Despite his projected confidence, though, his campaign is facing yet more struggles as three members of the Never Back Down super PAC, which has played a critical role in supporting his candidacy, stepped down this weekend, following the departure of the group’s former CEO last month.
While campaign finance laws prohibit super PACs from coordinating with campaigns, Never Back Down has helped the candidate with covering travel costs and advertising, among other things.
The staffers’ departures didn’t go unnoticed by Trump, who seized the opportunity to attack the governor.
“The Ron DeSanctimonious campaign people are dropping like flies,” he wrote on Truth Social.
Meanwhile, DeSantis told NBC’s Kristen Welker he will introduce a “big proposal” in the spring, which he says will replace the Affordable Care Act if he were elected president.
“We need to have a health care plan that works,” DeSantis said. “Obamacare hasn’t worked. We are going to replace and supersede with a better plan.”
Obamacare, which is very popular with voters, has dramatically reduced the numbers of uninsured Americans to record lows.
DeSantis criticized Trump for failing to deliver on his pledge to repeal the law during his previous term even as the former president has promised to renew the push if he gets reelected next November.
Trump has so far continued to dominate the GOP field, leading DeSantis by over 47 percentage points, according to an average of national polls by FiveThirtyEight.
During his “Meet the Press” interview, the Republican governor also took aim at the Democratic front-runner Biden, but warned House Republicans that a formal impeachment inquiry into the president is not a top priority for GOP voters.
“I think they run the risk of doing an inquiry that doesn’t necessarily lead anywhere while they’ve been ignoring a lot of the problems that our voters are talking about,” DeSantis said.