By Jack Phillips
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was involved in a car crash on Tuesday while campaigning in Tennessee, according to his campaign.
The Republican 2024 presidential candidate was not injured in the incident, spokesman Bryan Griffin said in a statement. Members of Mr. DeSantis’s campaign were also in the vehicle, he suggested.
“We appreciate the prayers and well wishes of the nation for his continued protection while on the campaign trail,” Mr. Griffin said. He also said that “this morning, the governor was in a car accident while traveling to an event in Chattanooga, Tennessee … he and his team are uninjured.”
Mr. DeSantis, meanwhile, has not issued a public comment about the crash on social media or elsewhere. Other details about the incident were not provided.
The Florida governor is now continuing on to his event, spokesman Andrew Romeo told The Associated Press. The Florida governor had fundraisers slated in Chattanooga, Knoxville, and around Nashville on Tuesday.
He’s been focusing more attention on Tennessee in his recent campaign events, as last week, he spoke to hundreds of attendees at a state GOP dinner in Nashville.
The Epoch Times contacted Mr. DeSantis’s campaign for additional comment Tuesday.
Mr. DeSantis, 44, is considered former President Donald Trump’s chief challenger in the Republican primary, although polls show that his support has slipped in recent weeks.
“The DeSantis campaign is recalibrating. It’s clear it needs to,” Republican strategist Terry Sullivan, who managed Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign, told the AP. “But at the end of the day, they’re still better positioned than any other challenger to Donald Trump, times 10.”
A poll released by Rasmussen Reports shows that Mr. Trump has 57 percent support, as compared to Mr. DeSantis’s 13 percent. Other candidates such as former Vice President Mike Pence, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and others have 5 percent support or less.
In other surveys, according to RealClearPolitics, Mr. Trump enjoys similar levels of support. A Fox Business poll for Iowa voters shows that the former president has 46 percent support, whereas Mr. DeSantis has 16 percent, Mr. Scott has 11 percent, and Ms. Haley has 5 percent.
At the same time, however, Mr. Trump was arrested on both federal and state charges in separate cases. There are also indicators that he will again face charges in connection to the Jan. 6 Capitol breach as a wide-ranging probe headed by special counsel Jack Smith.
“No matter how much the media and D.C. elites try to destroy Ron DeSantis, they can’t change the fact that this is a two-man race for the nomination,” Andrew Romeo, a spokesman for the DeSantis campaign, told news outlets in a recent statement about his poll numbers.
He added that the governor “is ready to prove the doubters wrong yet again and our campaign is prepared to execute on his vision for the Great American Comeback as we transition into the next phase of winning this primary and beating [President] Joe Biden.”
Over the past weekend, the DeSantis campaign and donors engaged in what was described as a brainstorming session to revamp his image amid faltering poll numbers, according to a Florida lobbyist, Nick Iarossi.
Mr. Iarossi, who has been described as being close to Mr. DeSantis’ political operation, said that those in attendance were from “from all over the country, high level folks who supported a variety of candidates in the last presidential.”
“Everybody’s attitude was positive,” Mr. Iarossi told CNN, “but they know they need to continue to raise more money and we must continue to do better.”
Mr. Iarossi, who said he was at the event, told Politico that changes were made to make Mr. DeSantis more available to voters. “Let Ron be Ron,” he said. “That’s what got him here. That’s what made him the leader that he is in Florida. We’re going back to our basics on all of this.”
“Ron DeSantis has never been the favorite or the darling of the establishment, and he has won because of it every time. No one in this race has been under fire more and won than Gov. DeSantis. He’s ready to prove them wrong again. Buckle up,” DeSantis campaign manager Generra Peck told NBC News last week.
So far, Mr. DeSantis’ team has raised $150 million for his presidential campaign, according to campaign filings. A large percentage of it has gone to a super PAC, or political action committee, run by allies who can’t legally coordinate with his campaign.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.