DeSantis New Hampshire GOP Event Hits a Snag

Except for one thing, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had New Hampshire Republicans excited ahead of his Granite State debut Friday night.

Several attendees told The Daily Beast they worry that DeSantis signing a six-week abortion ban this week could blow the air out of his campaign before it even starts.

Others said they hoped to get some Facetime with the governor—with tickets running from $150 per person in the main hall to $600 for the VIP room—but weren’t overly optimistic. For New Hampshire GOP bigwigs dressed for a combination of prom and the opening of a new luxury car dealership, DeSantis’ reputation preceded him and left them slightly skeptical. (The governor made sure to work the room for at least 45 minutes at the event, personally greeting those in attendance).

“It’s certainly the hottest ticket on the trail,” said Chuck McGee, a Concord Republican and the former New Hampshire GOP executive director.

“We want to know if he’s going to run and if he’s going to be our Trump with a better disposition,” his wife, Carrie McGee, said as they walked toward the ballroom at the Double Tree by Hilton downtown Manchester.

But they had some hesitations.

“I think a six-week ban would be a hard sell here in New Hampshire,” said Chuck McGee, who pleaded guilty to a felony charge in 2004 stemming from the 2002 New Hampshire Senate election phone jamming scandal.

Carrie McGee praised DeSantis for sticking to his guns and seeing the bill through in Florida.

“Can’t run away from what’s right,” she said.

A six-week prohibition, according to Rick Devoid, a Granite State Republican from Boscawen, would “be pushing it” among New Hampshire primary voters, who, unlike in most states, include independents.

DeSantis New Hampshire GOP Event Hits a Snag

The Daily Beast was barred from reporting DeSantis’ statements inside the hall after the New Hampshire GOP’s executive director, Elliot Gault, canceled this reporter’s press credentials. Gault said on Thursday that The Daily Beast had been granted permission to cover the event.

But, just hours after the latest Trump attack ad referring to the governor as “Pudding Fingers”—a reference to an anecdote first reported by The Daily Beast in which DeSantis shoveled pudding into his mouth with three fingers—Gault announced that The Daily Beast would no longer be credentialed for the event.

As first reported by The Daily Beast, metal detectors were present at the event, a rarity in New Hampshire Republican politics. Colorado Security, a vendor frequently seen at Trump rallies, was also on hand for the fundraiser.

There was still plenty of buzz surrounding DeSantis ahead of the most anxiously anticipated New Hampshire debut for Granite State Republicans.

“I’m hoping he says he’s running for president, but that probably won’t happen,” Manchester Republican Brad Chandler said.

The address began with a glitch as two ladies stormed the platform, yelling “Jews against DeSantis.”

Two spectators saw the women stand close to their table “for about 45 to 60 seconds unnoticed” before storming onto the stage. Another New Hampshire Republican, speaking anonymously to avoid professional repercussions, called the incident a “huge security failure.”

DeSantis brushed off the kerfuffle as the protesters were dragged off stage.

“Gotta have a little spice in the speech, right?” the governor quipped to a round of applause.

DeSantis did not mention abortion or Trump by name in the speech, according to Reuters.

It was beginning to feel a little like Camelot back at the Double Tree bar for those most enthused about a prospective DeSantis run.

Chandler and a group of bargoers agreed that DeSantis might project a JFK-like image on the national stage, helping Republicans win over moderates and independents.

Carrie McGee, on the other hand, believes the JFK connection is inappropriate for the present GOP.

“I don’t know if JFK is all that memory makes him out to be,” she remarked.

Of course, some Granite State veterans recognized the classic Granite State assignment.

“I’m not voting for anybody yet, I’m just keeping an eye out,” state Sen. Ruth Ward, a Republican from Stoddard whose Swedish family fled from China after the Communist Revolution, told The Daily Beast.

Yet for others, the night’s main attraction was a different DeSantis.

“I’d love to see Casey,” Erika Salinas, a Florida native coming to the event from Maine, told The Daily Beast. “She’s just such an iconic American woman.”

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