Ron DeSantis to unveil economic agenda in bid to revive campaign

Republican presidential contender Ron DeSantis will call for faster growth, unleashing US energy production and further decoupling from China, outlining his economic vision in a speech Monday aimed at reviving his flagging campaign.

Bloomberg
First Published29 Jul 2023
FILE PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, delivers remarks at the annual Christians United for Israel Summit (CUFI), at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., July 17, 2023. REUTERS/Kevin Wurm/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, delivers remarks at the annual Christians United for Israel Summit (CUFI), at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., July 17, 2023. REUTERS/Kevin Wurm/File Photo(REUTERS)

Republican presidential contender Ron DeSantis will call for faster growth, unleashing US energy production and further decoupling from China, outlining his economic vision in a speech Monday aimed at reviving his flagging campaign.

DeSantis will hit themes popular with his party’s base in the New Hampshire speech, including opening up domestic energy production, slowing the shift to electric vehicles and reducing inflation and government spending. It follows his criticism this week of the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates — now at a 22-year high.

His plans to deliver a major economic address, first reported by Bloomberg News, are part of a campaign reset aimed at steadying a 2024 presidential bid that has been beset by spending woes, unforced political errors and a focus on culture war issues. 

DeSantis previewed his economic message during a two-day swing in Iowa this week.

“As Americans, we need to be independent from the failed elites who have imposed bad policies. We need to be independent from the Chinese Communist Party. We need to be independent from bad energy policy,” DeSantis said.

Donors are pressing the Florida governor to speak more on issues such as the state of the economy, a potential liability for President Joe Biden and an issue important to Republican primary voters, as a way to close the gap with GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. Trump leads DeSantis by a wide margin in primary polls.

During events with voters in Iowa, DeSantis played up his blue-collar roots, as a kid who worked to pay his way through college. DeSantis zeroed in on Biden’s handling of the economy, saying the economic math does not work for American families.

“We’ve had lackluster economic growth for a long time. We need to be growing at 3% or more,” DeSantis said at a meet-and-greet with Republican voters in Osceola, Iowa, floating a target for annual GDP growth.

The latest data showed inflation abating and economic growth reaching 2.4%, giving Democrats optimistic data points for Biden’s reelection bid. Still polls show American voters don’t approve of Biden on the economy. 

Read more: Frustrated Biden Seeks to Get Manufacturing Message to Resonate

DeSantis said he would also put universities on the hook for bad student debt — a shot at Biden’s ambitious plan to cancel debt for more than 40 million people, a signature initiative that was struck down by the US Supreme Court earlier this month.

Monday’s economic speech will be a critical moment for DeSantis to refocus his campaign. The governor was seen as a more cerebral Trump, a candidate who had the former president’s policies but without the baggage. But his hyper-focus on culture war fights detracted from that branding.

DeSantis and his team have spent several days drafting remarks that touch on inflation, China, US manufacturing and energy policy, according to people familiar with the planning who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Earlier: DeSantis Plans Major Economic Speech Next Week as Part of Reset

The governor said he had talked with a “broad range” of center-right economists to develop his plan but declined to name those advisers, when asked after an event in Chariton, Iowa. 

DeSantis is not known for keeping a kitchen cabinet of policy advisers, according to the people familiar, instead preferring to study data and papers himself. His campaign has a top policy staffer, Dustin Carmack, though his expertise lies more in foreign policy and national security.

In recent talking points distributed to donors, the campaign called the economy and China two of the four central themes for DeSantis moving forward.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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