Debate moderator Megyn Kelly asked Gov. DeSantis why he hasn't dropped out of GOP primary race yet

 December 7, 2023

Former President Donald Trump, his campaign, and some of his supporters have often called upon Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to drop out of the 2024 Republican primary race due to Trump's substantial lead in virtually all of the national and state-level polls of GOP voters.

DeSantis was asked directly why he hasn't yet acquiesced to those demands during the first question of Wednesday night's Republican debate by co-moderator Megyn Kelly, according to Breitbart.

The Florida governor replied by pointing to past examples of pollsters being wrong, observed that his own re-election last year had surpassed the expectations of pundits, and predicted that he would continue to achieve unanticipated success in the upcoming primary elections next year.

Why hasn't DeSantis dropped out yet?

At the very start of Wednesday's GOP debate, co-moderator Kelly said to Gov. DeSantis, "Your campaign and its super PAC had spent the most money, had the most high net worth donors, and had a wave of momentum coming into this race. After your big reelection win in Florida, you were seen by many as the candidate most likely to consolidate the non-Trump field."

"But here we are a month out from the first real votes and you haven’t managed to do it," she continued. "In fact, Nikki Haley is beating you in New Hampshire and South Carolina now and closing in on you in Iowa. Not to mention Trump, who is not only dominating in the early states, but he’s beating you in Florida by over 30 points."

Kelly then asked the governor, "Is it fair to say, as Senator Tim Scott did when he dropped out, that voters are telling you not no, but not now?"

Governor says ignore the polls and pundits, let the voters decide

The Daily Caller reported that Gov. DeSantis said in reply to Kelly's prefaced question about dropping out of the race, "So we have a great idea in America that the voters actually make these decisions, not pundits or pollsters."

"I’m sick of hearing about these polls ’cause I remember those polls in November of 2022. They said there was gonna be a big red wave, it was gonna be monumental, and that crashed and burned," he continued. "The one place it didn’t crash and burn was in the state of Florida. They weren’t predicting that I would win the way I did, and I won the greatest Republican victory in the history of the state of Florida."

The governor added, "I’m looking forward to Iowa and New Hampshire, the voters are gonna be able to speak, and we’re gonna earn this nomination."

Polls show DeSantis struggling in some early-voting states

According to the RealClearPolitics average of GOP primary polls, former President Trump holds a commanding lead over the rest of the Republican field with around 61% support, more than 47 points ahead of Gov. DeSantis in second place with 13.5%, who in turn is followed by former U.N. Ambassador Haley with 10.3% while all other candidates are mired in the single digits.

As for the three early-voting states mentioned by Kelly in her opening question, Haley is indeed leading DeSantis in New Hampshire -- she sits in second with 18.7% while he is in fourth with 7.7% -- and in her home state of South Carolina, where she previously served as governor and currently garners 18.8% support in second place compared to 10.5% for DeSantis in third place.

Kelly was also correct about Iowa, where DeSantis is behind frontrunner Trump with 18.7% but is followed closely by Haley with 15.7% support.

Kelly asked hard questions of all of the candidates

Lest anyone think that Kelly was picking on or had singled DeSantis out specifically for criticism, Axios reported that Kelly had tough opening questions for all of the other three Republican candidates who qualified to appear on the debate stage.

Kelly asked Haley about the rapid increase in her personal wealth over the past few years and apparent close ties to billionaire donors, confronted entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy over his attacks on other candidates while claiming to be a "unifier," and pressed former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie over his deep unpopularity with GOP voters and seemingly obsessed fixation on incessantly smearing Trump after previously endorsing and supporting the former president.

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