A debate memo published on the website of a firm linked to the pro-Ron DeSantis Never Back Down Super PAC outlines a plan for the first Republican presidential debate that may reveal who and what Mr. DeSantis perceives as a threat.
The two-page document advises the Florida governor and 2024 presidential candidate to, among other things, “hammer Vivek Ramaswamy in a response.”
As first reported by The New York Times, the information appeared briefly on the webpage of Axiom Strategies, a firm founded by Jeff Roe, chief strategist for Never Back Down. It was removed after the publication reached out to Never Back Down about the memo, according to the NY Times.
The memo lists an attack on Mr. Ramaswamy, a biotech entrepreneur, as the first of several possible moments intended to grab media attention during the debate, which is set for Milwaukee on Aug. 23.
“Take a sledge-hammer to Vivek Ramaswamy: ‘Fake Vivek’ Or ‘Vivek the Fake,'” it reads.
Mr. Ramaswamy swiftly responded on X, formerly called Twitter, to The NY Times story.
“Another boring, establishment attack from Super PAC-creation ‘Robot Ron’ who is literally taking lame, pre-programmed attack lines against me for next week’s debate,” he wrote.
Backing up the candidate was Tricia McLaughlin, a senior adviser to the Ramaswamy campaign, in a comment to The Epoch Times.
“Vivek’s job on Aug 23 is to introduce himself and his vision to the American people,” Ms. McLaughlin said. “These boring, canned attack lines from a robotic candidate doesn’t [sic] change that.”
The DeSantis campaign declined to comment to The Epoch Times.
Much like Mr. Ramaswamy, who has billed himself as the avatar of “America First 2.0,” Mr. DeSantis is hoping to present himself as the rightful heir to former President Donald Trump, according to the memo.
An item labeled “carrying the torch,” listed among several possible moments that could help Mr. DeSantis attract the spotlight in Milwaukee, includes a lengthy speech, presumably delivered from the Florida governor’s perspective:
“Many voters, like me, voted for Donald Trump, love Donald Trump. He was a breath of fresh air and the first president to tell the elite where to shove it. But he was attacked all the time, provoked attacks all the time, and it was non-stop. … We need someone that can fight for you instead of fighting for himself. We need someone who is going to take the torch and carry it to the next chapter,” the speech reads in part.
‘Defend Donald Trump’ if Christie Pounces
The memo, which refers to Mr. DeSantis as “GRD,” also advises him to “attack Joe Biden and the media 3–5 times,” “state GRD’s positive vision 2–3 times,” and “defend Donald Trump in absentia in response to a Chris Christie attack.”
Mr. Christie, the former New Jersey governor, has made a name for himself in the GOP contest for his consistently harsh critical comments of the former president.
He responded to the latest indictment of Mr. Trump, which extends to 18 others charged with racketeering in connection with the 2020 election, by criticizing his rival’s actions.
“We can’t normalize this conduct. I mean, this has never happened before in this country, ever, where you had a candidate for president of the United States conduct himself in this way—to disrespect the election process in this way, to refuse to accept the verdict of the voters,” Mr. Christie said on Fox News.
The Axiom Strategies memo—under a list of potential opportunities to command the media’s attention—offers Mr. DeSantis what looks like a possible line to use when and if Mr. Christie attacks President Trump:
“Trump isn’t here, so let’s just leave him alone. He’s too weak to defend himself here. We’re all running against him. I don’t think we want to join forces with someone on this stage who’s auditioning for a show on MSNBC,” the document reads.
The Trump and Christie campaigns didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
Nanette Holt contributed to this report.