TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — As Ron DeSantis prepares to take the debate stage on Wednesday, campaign donors are doubling down in support of Florida’s governor – saying he’s the only candidate who can beat Trump in the Republican primary.
Despite a campaign reboot, endless attacks from the mainstream media and pressure from former President Trump, several high-profile donors told ABC News they are sticking with DeSantis.
Dan Eberhart, CEO of Canary, a Denver, Colorado-based drilling company, told ABC News that he believes DeSantis is the best candidate to take on Trump.
“The national polls don’t matter at this point,” Eberhart said. “DeSantis is the only candidate who can beat Trump. No one else is close in the polling.”
Greg Cook, founder of the doTerra essential oil company, said he isn’t “the least bit concerned” about how DeSantis is polling in early-voting states or nationally.
“It is early and Governor DeSantis is proving to be the only conservative alternative to former President Donald Trump,” Cook said. “Republican voters will quickly understand like I have, that Governor DeSantis can accomplish far more with two full remaining terms.”
“WORKING TO GET IT RIGHT”
Last year, Cook donated to DeSantis’ reelection campaign for governor because of his conservative policies. To support the governor's presidential bid this year, Cook donated $6,600 to the official campaign and gave $50,000 to Never Back Down, the primary super PAC backing DeSantis.
“Every candidacy is a start-up venture,” Cook said about DeSantis’ campaign spending. “Now is the time to make adjustments where necessary. The campaign team owned up to strategically trying a number of different approaches and have made some changes based on the data.”
“There’s no perfect formula,” Eberhart said. “But DeSantis is working to get it right. I’m still supporting and still think he wins.”
Point Bridge Capital CEO Hal Lambert, a former Trump backer who now supports DeSantis pushed back against what he called a “narrative that the donors are pulling away” from DeSantis.
“Many donors, they follow politics,” Lambert said. “But they’re susceptible just like the general public to watching these polls and you have poll after poll after poll now coming out showing DeSantis isn’t gaining ground against Trump.”
Lambert said no matter what the polls say, he still thinks DeSantis is the best candidate to defeat Trump.
“He is the only candidate that can beat Trump in the primary,” Lambert said. “If Trump is the nominee, we will lose the general election in a landslide.”