Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis looks nearly ready to launch his White House bid

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during an Iowa GOP reception on May 13, 2023 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appears to be putting the final pieces in place before he announces a bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

The governor’s political operation started moving out of its Tallahassee offices and into a new location Monday, a source familiar with the situation told CNBC.

The cost of the move will likely exceed $5,000, a threshold that will trigger a 15-day countdown for the operation to file a so-called Statement of Candidacy form with the Federal Election Commission. The move, which NBC News reported Friday, is expected to essentially kick off DeSantis’ final sprint before he publicly announces his presidential bid.

Also on Monday, DeSantis’ press secretary, Bryan Griffin, announced he was leaving the governor’s office to “pursue other avenues of helping to deliver the governor’s success to our country.” Griffin is becoming the press secretary for the DeSantis political operation, according to Fox News, which first reported the move.

“If I can be even a small part of the revival and restoration of our great nation, then I am prepared to give it my all,” Griffin wrote in his resignation letter.

A spokeswoman for the governor’s office said in a statement that Griffin “has been a valuable member of the communications team and worked tirelessly to serve Floridians, and we know he will continue to serve the Governor well in his new role.”

The moves are among the clearest yet that DeSantis is gearing up to step into the primary arena that former President Donald Trump has so far dominated. Long seen as Trump’s top Republican rival, DeSantis has seen his standing decline in early national polls of the potential primary field, even as he tours key states and touts a spate of recent legislative victories.

Trump, meanwhile, appears to have surged in the same polls despite recently being criminally charged with falsifying business records and being found liable for sexual abuse and defamation by a New York jury. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges and vowed to appeal the jury’s verdict.

The polling gap between the frontrunners has widened even as super PACs backing DeSantis and Trump have each spent a comparable amount — more than $10 million — on advertising in the primary so far, according to data from ad-tracking firm AdImpact.

The pro-DeSantis political efforts could soon reap a major windfall if the governor’s allies are able to transfer nearly $86 million from the state GOP to a federal super PAC that can use it to boost his national campaign. Some experts expect the Florida governor’s supporters to make that move around the same time DeSantis announces his White House bid.

DeSantis has met with major donors in recent weeks to make his case as a presidential contender. Some of those potential benefactors have since extolled the governor’s abilities, though Bloomberg reported that one wealthy GOP donor, Steve Schwarzman, is holding off after meeting with him.

Meanwhile, DeSantis has continued to use his office to tee up his campaign platform. The governor earlier Monday signed multiple education-focused bills, including one barring funding for diversity, equity and inclusion programs in public colleges. Supporters and critics of those programs have each accused the other of stifling academic freedom.

The anti-DEI bill is part of a wide-reaching, frequently politically divisive agenda that recently passed through Florida’s heavily Republican state Legislature.

“If you want to do things like gender ideology, go to Berkeley,” DeSantis said at the signing event Monday.

DeSantis and Trump were both set to hold events in Iowa over the weekend, but the former president backed out, citing concerns about severe weather.

After ducking that head-to-head moment, Trump turned back to repeatedly bashing DeSantis in the media.

“He doesn’t have the goods,” Trump said of DeSantis in a multipart Truth Social post Monday that railed against Fox News for allegedly covering the potential GOP challenger too favorably.

“Without my Endorsement, he was a dead man walking. Even with Fox, he’s already pretty close to that again!” Trump wrote.

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