In black boots, jeans and an untucked shirt — the fundraiser’s dress code was noted as “ranch casual” — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday pitched Republican voters in Nevada to former President Donald J. Tried to stay loyal to Trump. Because winning an election is beyond its lifetime.
He presided over a conservative jamboree in the swing state, where Mr. Trump’s loyalty runs even deeper, Mr. DeSantis Neve did not name his rival for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination during a speech in Gardnerville.
But the Florida governor has sought to create a not-so-subtle distinction between himself and the former president, a one-time ally who was more front-runner in the Republican Party. He described last year’s by-election as another disappointment in a string of defeats for the party, while he won re-election last November by more than 1.2 million votes.
“We have created a culture of defeat in this party,” Mr. DeSantis said, “You’re not going to get a mulligan in the 2024 election.”
At a barbecue fundraiser supporting conservative groups in Nevada, Mr. DeSantis spoke for nearly an hour.
Mr. Steven Cheung, Trump’s campaign spokesman, said in a statement to The Times on Saturday that Mr. Attacked DeSantis.
“Ron DeSantis is a proven liar and fraud,” he said. “That’s why he’s falling in the polls — nationally and statewide. He needs to be careful before his chances disappear completely in 2028.
The Basque Fry has risen in stature since it was first held in 2015, drawing a stream of Republican presidential candidates to Corley Ranch in the Carson Valley with the rugged backdrop of the Sierra Nevada.
Past headliners include Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. Former Vice President Mike Pence, who entered the race earlier this month, was scheduled to attend in 2017 but canceled as Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast.
It’s an opportunity for White House lobbyists to make an elevator pitch to rank-and-file conservatives in Nevada in 2021. It replaced its party-run caucuses with primaries. Republicans oppose the amendment, passed by the state legislature, and Case against government for caucuses.
Mr. DeSantis’ visit to Nevada caps a week in which Mr. Trump dominated the news cycle with his trial on Tuesday on a 37-count federal indictment related to his handling of classified documents after leaving office.
Mr. As Trump’s chief Republican challenger, Mr. DeSantis did not address the indictment in full, instead echoing GOP attacks on the Justice Department and vowing to replace the FBI’s director if elected.
“We are going to end this government’s weaponization once and for all,” said Mr. DeSantis said.
In 2016, the last presidential election in which the GOP did not have an incumbent president, Mr. Trump won. He leads his closest rival, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, by 22 percentage points.
During the midterm elections last fall, Mr. Trump He campaigned for the Republican Party in Nevada At a rally in Minden, near Gardnerville. The elections turned out to be a mixed show for the GOP, which flipped the governor’s office but lost key races for the Senate and House, including the seat of Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat seen as vulnerable.
Ms. Cortez Masto’s defeat of former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, the actual host of Saturday’s fundraiser, helped give Democrats complete control of the Senate.
While they were both naval officers, Mr. DeSantis’ roommate, Mr. Laxalt introduced him to a crowd of about 2,500 people.
We need such a leader, he said.
Mr. Laxalt launched Basque Fry in 2015 A tradition started by his grandfatherPaul Laxalt, former United States Senator and Governor of Nevada, died in 2018.
Northern Nevada is One of the nation’s highest concentrations of people of Basque descentIn 2018, Mr. A group consisting of Laxalt.
Jim McCrossin, 78, a Virginia City, Nev., retiree surveying the farm in a DeSantis hat, said he had previously been Mr. He said he supported Trump but worried about his election.
“I think there’s so much hatred for him,” he said, “that Trump has been arrested twice, and that’s not the last time.”
He told Mr DeSantis there was “no drama”.
His family is divided: his wife, Jackie McGrasin, has said she still likes Mr Trump, despite wearing a DeSantis hat.
Shelley Wood, 72, a retired nail technician and gold miner from Winnemucca, Nev., who wore a Trump 2020 camouflage hat, said Mr. DeSantis would be a strong supporter of Mr. Trump, but that it was not his moment.
However, Ms Wood said Mr DeSantis had made a positive impact on her through his record in Florida.
“He stood up to Disney, which is something a lot of people wouldn’t dare to do,” he said.
Mr. DeSantis repeatedly reminded the crowd of his feud with Disney, which he and other Republicans have become the epitome of “woke” culture after the company criticized a state law banning classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.
During his formal introduction as a candidate last month, Mr. DeSantis has struggled with being labeled as bad by the media and rivals in retail politics and in one-on-one settings with voters.
Before taking to the stage, with the snow-capped mountains behind him, Mr. DeSantis attended a reception closed to the media for about 30 minutes with a group of VIPs.
Outside the reception, the governor’s wife Casey DeSantis, a ubiquitous campaigner and influencer on her husband’s administration’s policies, took selfies and signed autographs for local Republicans. She also wore boots.
Mr. While DeSantis impressed many in attendance, the event was implicitly pro-Trump. Shawn Newman, 58, a truck driver from Fernley, Nev., wearing the ubiquitous red Trump hat and next to the table with DeSantis campaign swag, said Mr. Trump was still his candidate.
he said of the other Republican candidates.
Mr. As DeSantis worked a rope after his speech, someone handed him a campaign hat to sign. In his other hand, he held a Trump hat.
“Friend of animals everywhere. Coffee maven. Professional food trailblazer. Twitter buff.”