Ron DeSantis Leaked Debate Memo Controversy Explained

Ron DeSantis Leaked Debate Memo Controversy Explained

The Florida Governor and 2024 Presidential candidate has denied owning the leaked detailed memo guiding his act in the first Republican debate scheduled on August 23, 2023, after it gained media attention.

Why is DeSantis’s debate memo controversial?

Here you have the details.

Ron DeSantis Leaked Debate Memo Controversy Explained

As the 2024 Presidential candidates prepare for the upcoming first Republican debate, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s debate preparation memos occupied the headlines in the news last week.

The leaked detailed memo that consisted of hundreds of pages was reportedly posted on the website of Axiom Strategies, a consulting firm owned by Jeff Roe, chief strategist to Never Back Down, a Super Pac backing DeSantis.

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The memo includes research and internal polls to serve as DeSantis’s debate guide. It directs the governor about what must be done to gain public attention on the debate stage. The posted documents contain a detailed analysis of how each Presidential hopeful is expected to act on the debate floor and attack DeSantis.

The memo advised DeSantis with four special must-do-acts in the debate. It mentions the Florida Governor should “attack President Joe Biden and the media 3-5 times, state GRD’s positive vision 2-3 times, Hammer Vivek Ramaswamy in a response, defend former President Donald Trump in absentia in response to a former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie attack.”

The strategy memo did not mention any policy and mainly advised the Florida Governor to refrain from discussing specific solutions as doing so would not help him get media attention.

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Apart from a comprehensive strategy for the debate, the memo also revealed the financial deficit that the DeSantis campaign has been facing after spending maximum funds in the first half of the quarter. The memo reflected the ‘remarkable extent’ to which his campaign depends upon his Super PAC, which raised $130 million in the year’s first half.

DeSantis appeared embarrassed by the leaked documents when he denied owning the memo in an interview on Saturday. The Florida Governor said, “On the memo, it’s not mine. I have not read it. It’s just something that we have and put off to the side.”

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DeSantis called himself the biggest threat who had been attacked frequently. He said, “When you’re over the target, that’s when you’re taking the most flak. If you look, really, in the last 6-9 months, I’ve been more attacked than anybody else. People know that I’m the biggest threat.”
Similarly, DeSantis’ campaign spokesperson Andrew Romeo indicated that his campaign was unaware of the memo after it was leaked Thursday while calling the Florida Governor the strongest Presidential candidate.

Romeo said, “This was not a campaign memo, and we were not aware of it prior to the article. We are well accustomed to the attacks from all sides, as the media and other candidates realize Ron DeSantis is the strongest candidate best positioned to take down Joe Biden.”

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DeSantis ranks second in national polls for the 2024 Republican nomination after Trump. In many polls, the Florida Governor is seen at a tie with another rising presidential candidate and a biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy for whom the memo instructed DeSantis “to take a sledgehammer.”

What is the issue with DeSantis’s leaked debate memo?

What is the issue with DeSantis's leaked debate memo?
What is the issue with DeSantis’s leaked debate memo?

Generally, Political Action Committees (PACs) are legally prohibited from privately coordinating with political campaigns and forming strategies guiding the candidate to act in certain manners when they run for elections.

To prevent violation of this law, PACs have been continuously posting online memos, polling results, and documents to help their preferred campaign.

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Although posting such documents is risky because the media and other opposition leaders can view them and can easily come to know of the candidate’s agenda, super PACs justify this act to communicate important information to their supporting candidates without infringing the law.

But in DeSantis’s case, the memo was released by a consulting firm working for a super PAC backing DeSantis’s presidential campaign, which is unusual.

As a result, it was heavily trolled, questioning the law’s validity. The legality of such firms posting online detailed political strategy documents of several pages guiding how a Presidential candidate should act while facing other candidates in the first Republican debate has become controversial.

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When the media reached Never Back Down for comments on Thursday, the firm removed one key memo from the website and summarised the strategy for the debate. The “key missing memo” from the detailed documents reportedly discussed Trump and highlighted his past attacks on DeSantis.

However, all the posted documents were soon removed when the “leaked memo” discussion occupied most of the news.

About the author

Nancy Beverly

Nancy Beverly is a prominent political journalist and editor at World-Wire, known for her sharp analysis and deep understanding of global politics. With a Master's degree in Political Science, she excels in breaking down complex political issues, making them relatable to the public. At World-Wire, Nancy crafts compelling political narratives covering everything from local governance to international relations. Recognized for her expertise, she received the 'Excellence in Political Journalism' award in 2021. Nancy's work not only informs but also enriches her readers' understanding of political dynamics.

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