PALM BEACH, Fla. — Podcast host Megyn Kelly disagrees with some Republican takes that 2024 presidential candidate Ron DeSantis floundered through Friday’s town hall with Tucker Carlson. And she thinks it is time for the Florida governor to make a stir on liberal television networks.
“I think DeSantis is starting to find his groove,” Kelly said in an interview shortly before she spoke at the Turning Point USA conference in Palm Beach, Florida. “He’s getting better at this. It was the best he’s done on Ukraine and a number of other issues.”
Candidate Asa Hutchinson never really had a chance, she reflected, but the former Arkansas governor’s answer to Carlson on the trans issue demonstrated that “he’s done” going forward.
She described Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina as likable and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as “very competent” and “very savvy.” But each of those candidates have the same polling problem, Kelly noted, adding: “It didn’t change yesterday.”
As for businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, Kelly finds him likable, but ultimately uninspiring.
“I think he’s falling flat on the inspirational front, even though that’s his main game,” she said. “So, I thought it was a DeSantis win.”
Ramaswamy’s performance at the town hall has drawn the praise of conservatives such as Charlie Kirk, who told The Daily Signal on Saturday that “Vivek was the best-performing candidate.” (Kirk rejected the idea of Ramaswamy as a potential vice president to Trump, but suggested Ramaswamy would make a good presidential chief of staff.)
“i think he reads the room really, really well … he’s a master tactician, really understands the details, he’s built a phenomenal business,” Kirk said. “But I am enthusiastically behind Vivek being on the team to save America.”
But to Kelly, DeSantis was the clear winner.
“I think the larger narrative is that DeSantis has stalled, right?” she said. “But it is relatively early, and he’s got $150 million in his war chest, so it’s too early to pronounce his campaign over it. Having said that, it hasn’t been gangbusters. He got sort of a false start with that Twitter spaces thing. And he’s not a natural retail politician, but if you watch the guy enough, I think eventually he will win you over.”
DeSantis doesn’t have former President Donald Trump’s charisma, and he’s “a little nerdy,” she said. “But he’s a smart, technocratic, get-‘er done kind of guy.”
“I really think the No. 1 thing he needs to do is get himself in front of adversarial liberal media and fight,” she said, pointing to former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s success combating liberal media while noting that Lake doesn’t have 1/10 of the legislative or political accomplishments that DeSantis has.
“Go on MSNBC! That’s what I would tell him to do,” she added.
Kelly also tossed around the idea of DeSantis going on “Meet the Press” or on CNN.
“Everybody is left-wing other than sort-of-Fox and digital media,” said Kelly, a former Fox News host herself. “So take your pick. But he should get out there and fight.”
Asked if DeSantis should go on “The View,” Kelly responded: “Oh, that would actually be spectacular. Insufferable. I mean, who can watch them? I mean, you’d have to do it if he were on there, but it’d be a tough, tough nut to crack. Anyway, he should do something or all of it. He needs to do something to change the trajectory. And you know what people love about Trump? He’s combative. He never backs down. He gets in your face.
“DeSantis has that, too. He just hasn’t been putting himself in the situations where he could show it.”
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