Matt Wolking, who was part of the 2020 Trump campaign, will coordinate strategic communications for Never Back Down, a super PAC backing Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida.
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Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has been moving toward a 2024 presidential bid. He is expected to finalize a decision in the coming months.
A top communications aide for former President Donald J. Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign has become the latest former Trump official to join a super PAC supporting Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida amid escalating tensions between the two Republicans.
Matt Wolking, the deputy communications director for Mr. Trump’s previous campaign, has joined the super PAC, Never Back Down, as strategic communications director.
In 2020, Mr. Wolking oversaw the rapid response and war room teams for the Trump campaign and in 2021, he was the campaign communications director for Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia.
Most recently, he was vice president of communications at Axiom Strategies, the company run by Jeff Roe, a political consultant who joined the pro-DeSantis super PAC this month. Mr. Roe oversaw the 2016 presidential bid of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who was the runner-up in the Republican presidential nomination that year.
Mr. Trump remains the favorite to win his third Republican presidential nomination, according to polls. Mr. DeSantis, in those same surveys, is Mr. Trump’s chief potential rival for the nomination.
Who’s Running for President in 2024?
Card 1 of 7
The race begins. Four years after a historically large number of candidates ran for president, the field for the 2024 campaign is starting out small and is likely to be headlined by the same two men who ran last time: President Biden and Donald Trump. Here’s who has entered the race so far, and who else might run:
Donald Trump. The former president is running to retake the office he lost in 2020. Though somewhat diminished in influence within the Republican Party — and facing several legal investigations — he retains a large and committed base of supporters, and he could be aided in the primary by multiple challengers splitting a limited anti-Trump vote.
Nikki Haley. The former governor of South Carolina and U.N. ambassador under Trump has presented herself as a member of “a new generation of leadership” and emphasized her life experience as a daughter of Indian immigrants. She was long seen as a rising G.O.P. star but her allure in the party has declined amid her on-again, off-again embrace of Trump.
Vivek Ramaswamy. The multimillionaire entrepreneur and author describes himself as “anti-woke” and is known in right-wing circles for opposing corporate efforts to advance political, social and environmental causes. He has never held elected office and does not have the name recognition of most other G.O.P. contenders.
President Biden. While Biden has not formally declared his candidacy for a second term, and there has been much hand-wringing among Democrats over whether he should seek re-election given his age, he is widely expected to run. If he does, Biden’s strategy is to frame the race as a contest between a seasoned leader and a conspiracy-minded opposition.
Marianne Williamson. The self-help author and former spiritual adviser to Oprah Winfrey is the first Democrat to formally enter the race. Kicking off her second presidential campaign, Williamson called Biden a “weak choice” and said the party shouldn’t fear a primary. Few in Democratic politics are taking her entry into the race seriously.
Others who are likely to run. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina and Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire are seen as weighing Republican bids for the White House.
The two men have increasingly jabbed at each other as they aim to win over Republican voters.
Last week, Mr. DeSantis jabbed at Mr. Trump in an interview with Piers Morgan that aired on Fox News in which he raised questions about the former president’s character, described Mr. Trump’s attacks on him as “background noise” and drew distinctions between their leadership styles.
“No daily drama, focus on the big picture and put points on the board,” Mr. DeSantis said of his own approach.
Mr. Trump responded on Saturday in Waco, Texas, at the first major rally of his 2024 presidential campaign, telling the crowd that Mr. DeSantis had begged him “with tears in his eyes” for an endorsement during the 2018 governor’s race in Florida.
“I did rallies for Ron, massive rallies, and they were very successful,” Mr. Trump said, adding: “Two years later, the fake news is up there saying, ‘Will you run?’ And he says, ‘I have no comment.’ I say, ‘That’s not supposed to happen.’”
Mr. Trump’s mocking of Mr. DeSantis did not appear to go over well with the crowd, which did not respond with the kind of energetic applause that greeted some of the former president’s other remarks. Similarly, a pro-Trump audience in Iowa this month reacted with some groans to Mr. Trump’s attacks on Mr. DeSantis.
“Donald Trump was the president we needed eight years ago, but to make America great again, our movement needs a disciplined leader who wins instead of loses, never backs down, fights smart, and puts the mission before himself,” Mr. Wolking said in a statement. “On each count, Governor Ron DeSantis is the strongest choice: He’s bold, effective, and knows how to finish the job, so with him as president we will finally be able to win so much that we’ll be tired of all the winning.”
Mr. Wolking’s hiring follows an announcement last week that the super PAC was hiring Erin Perrine, who had been director of press communications for the 2020 Trump campaign, as communications director.
The PAC was founded by Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, who had served in the Trump administration as deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, to urge Mr. DeSantis to announce a White House bid. Mr. DeSantis hasn’t formally announced a campaign, a decision he is expected to finalize in the coming months.
“Matt is universally respected, at the top of his game, and will play a decisive role in Never Back Down achieving our strategic objectives and parlaying the desperate attacks poorly attempted by the former president and his shrinking number of allies,” said Chris Jankowski, the chief executive of the pro-DeSantis PAC.