The Turning Point Action Conference was held in West Palm Beach, Florida, this weekend, with numerous GOP hopefuls speaking and taking part in the festivities. The event is an important opportunity for prospective candidates to network, meet voters and constituents, and have their vision for the country heard in front of voters of all ages, especially younger ones.
This year’s event, as expected, was dominated by former president Donald Trump. However, who DIDN’T show up was as important as who did. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was not in attendance, despite the event being in his home state.
It was an important event because approximately half of the 6,000 attendees were between the ages of 18-21, while the rest varied in age. This demographic is an important one to win, and an opportunity to appeal to that base was missed by the Florida Governor.
DeSantis instead was in Iowa and Tennessee. The Governor’s press secretary explained: “Governor DeSantis spent the day with Iowans and spoke to a packed house at the Tennessee GOP Statesman Dinner later that night. This was a day after he delivered the strongest interview at the Family Leadership Summit, which Donald Trump notably skipped. Ron DeSantis is campaigning to win.”
Obvious rhetoric aside, DeSantis chose to focus on other parts of the country, assuming perhaps that his appeal in Florida is strong enough to excuse his absence. The straw poll numbers tell another story.
We grilled the GOP candidates at the Iowa summit and then traveled to Florida for a big speech at Turning Point USA.
Watch this video of the speech to see how the candidates performed, what’s happening in America and more.
SPOILER: We even cover the 8 ball of cocaine found in… pic.twitter.com/jRgmevblYt
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) July 16, 2023
The poll numbers indicate that President Trump dominated the attendees, ringing up an impressive 87.5%, while DeSantis finished with a scant 4.3%. Even more shocking for the DeSantis camp, businessman Perry Johnson snagged 7.8% to finish second.
Whether the numbers were retaliation for the Florida Governor skipping the event or attendees truly like Perry Johnson, what isn’t debatable is Donald Trump’s ability to whip up a crowd and dominate an event.
Trump spoke at length, touching on numerous topics, including Ukraine, the southern border, and inflation. Attendees were asked for a second preference, and in a stunner, Cincinnati businessman and Indian-American Vivek Ramaswamy was chosen as the favorite, with 21% checking in for Trump and 13.5% choosing DeSantis.
Previously unknown, Ramaswamy has gained considerable traction running on a common-sense, America-first platform. He has also stayed away from criticizing Trump and other candidates, unlike Chris Christie, DeSantis, and Mike Pence.
Speaking about DeSantis and Ramaswamy, event organizer Charlie Kirk said: “What’s also clear is that Governor DeSantis’ decision not to come to this event probably hurt his showing in this poll. There are a lot of people here who have a lot of respect for the governor and what he’s done in Florida, but I was approached multiple times by attendees telling me they were disappointed he didn’t come, and that’s evident in the poll results. … Vivek showed up and gave a great speech, and he was the clear second-choice favorite among our people.”
While Ramaswamy likely has no shot at the nomination, Vice President is in play, and he makes an interesting candidate if he can edge out Kari Lake. Vivek is a Trump supporter, and many of his policies align with the former president’s without the bombast and huge personality. The balance could prove enticing to voters hoping for more than the wet-dishrag personality of former VP Mike Pence.
Ultimately, the event clearly demonstrated the allure of Donald Trump. He is the hands-down favorite despite all of the efforts from the left to discredit him. Kirk said: “The straw poll demonstrates that President Trump remains the single most dominant force among the conservative grassroots. All the attacks against him have seemingly made him even stronger and more popular among the conservative faithful.”
It is still early, and many of the hopefuls will drop out. Ultimately it is still expected to come down to Trump and DeSantis, but the Florida Governor has a tall task ahead of him if he is to make up ground on the Trump Train.
"*" indicates required fields