Hours before the Republican Party’s first presidential debate, the chief strategist for the super PAC that has effectively taken over Ron DeSantis’s presidential campaign met with donors in Milwaukee.
“Now let me tell you a secret — don’t leak this,” the strategist, Jeff Roe, told the donors last Wednesday, according to a recording of the meeting reviewed by The New York Times. “We need to do this now. We’re making a move now.”
Then Mr. Roe made a bold sales pitch: “The day after Labor Day we’re launching and we need your help to stay up and go hard the rest of the way. We need 50 million bucks.”
With urgency in his voice, Mr. Roe told the donors he required much of the $50 million in the next month before the second G.O.P. debate on Sept. 27. He said he needed $5 million a month just to sustain his Iowa operations. And he said Mr. DeSantis needed to beat Donald J. Trump in “the next 60 days” and separate from all of his other rivals “now.”
The audio revealed that the people running the DeSantis super PAC, Never Back Down, are placing big bets now in the hope that donors will cover them later. And it underscored just how steep a task the group confronts as it heads into the fall with its candidate far behind Mr. Trump in the polls, a campaign that is low on cash and a growing recognition that a Trump victory in Iowa could accelerate the end of the Republican race.