DeSantis raises $8.2 million in first 24 hours after campaign launch

Miami  — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has raised a record $8.2 million in the first 24 hours after announcing his 2024 presidential campaign, as he barrels toward an expensive and combative primary led by former President Donald Trump.

The sum includes online donations and money raised by fundraisers at a gathering in Miami to dial for contributions, DeSantis’ campaign confirmed. The breakdown of how much each method raised is unclear.

DeSantis’ $8.2 million haul surpasses President Biden’s first day fundraising of $6.3 million on day one of his 2020 campaign launch, and outpaces the $9.5 million Trump raised in the first six months of his 2024 campaign.

Only South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who had over $22 million in his Senate reelection account when he transferred it to his presidential campaign, began his White House bid with more “hard” dollars — or money raised under federal fundraising limits.

Over $36 million has already been spent on advertisements for the 2024 race by Republican groups, according to data from AdImpact, an advertisement tracking firm.

In Miami on Thursday, DeSantis “bundlers,” or fundraisers who could collect money from a network of contacts, asked donors for a federal maximum donation of $3,300 for use during the primary election, and a maximum donation of the same amount for the general election, for a total of $6,600. Donors could also make the maximum pledge amounts through the DeSantis campaign website, though it is mostly expected to help raise smaller funds.

In one email, Joe Lonsdale, founder of venture capital firm 8VC, wrote that while “there are other good people we know who are running in this race,” his view is that DeSantis has the “best chance to win both the primary and the general election — and the best record and skillset to serve our country as President.”

“These direct campaign dollars are critically important at this phase to establish momentum, report good numbers early, and accelerate the ground game in key states like Iowa and South Carolina,” he continued, according to the email obtained by CBS News.

A super PAC supporting DeSantis’ run, Never Back Down, is expected to have a budget of $200 million, with $100 million of that dedicated for voter turnout and the ground game. The PAC says it has already begun knocking on doors in Iowa and New Hampshire this week.

“Governor DeSantis has built the strongest, most sophisticated organization in the history of American politics, and the tremendous support we’ve experienced in the last 24 hours will be critical as we hit the ground running in the early nominating states to share Governor DeSantis’ plan to revitalize the American Spirit,” DeSantis campaign manager Generra Peck wrote in a statement.

A super PAC supporting Trump, “Make America Great Again Inc.,” said DeSantis “was still not able to raise enough money to make up for his botched campaign launch.”

“His record of targeting senior benefits, wanting to raise taxes, and withholding funding for the border wall makes this campaign dead on arrival. No amount of money will change that,” wrote Alex Pfieiffer, a spokesperson for the PAC.

The gathering of DeSantis fundraisers and donors this week at the Four Seasons resort in Miami, dubbed “Ron-O-Rama,” began with a reception on Wednesday as the governor had a launch beset by technical difficulties on Twitter’s audio platform with its owner Elon Musk.

Attendees said there was a sense of confusion throughout the 20-minute delay, but that the atmosphere shifted once the second “Twitter Spaces” conversation began.

“Once they got going, once we got through the several 100,000 people in the waiting room there that crashed Twitter, which is kind of an exciting moment, people were pretty excited,” said Brandon Rosner, a bundler from Milwaukee that supported Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns.

The DeSantis campaign announced Wednesday that it had raised $1 million in donations within the first hour of launching.

Two sources said, as the donor gathering began, that the campaign had hoped to raise between $8 to $10 million in commitments within the first 24 hours after his announcement bid.

Thursday began with a political briefing from senior DeSantis campaign officials, where they  laid out a path of victory for him in the first four presidential primary states, with a focus on Iowa and New Hampshire in particular, according to three attendees in the room for the presentation.

The presentation emphasized how active the DeSantis campaign would be in the early states, from events, to fundraising to door-knocking, and included internal polling on the favorability ratings for DeSantis and Trump in the four early states, with a big lead in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The senior officials argue that the GOP nomination race is primarily a “two-man” race between DeSantis and Trump, and downplayed national polls of the race showing Trump up, calling them “superficial.”

“When’s the national primary?” one bundler recalls a member of the senior staff saying dismissively.

“The pitch is what he’s done in Florida he wants to transport to the rest of the country,” said Chuck Volpe, a DeSantis supporter from Pennsylvania. “The view of the resounding results of his re-election, even flipping Miami-Dade county, which has forever voted for [a Democrat], clearly that is part of their pitch. That he’s electable and that former President Trump is not.”

CBS News has reached out to DeSantis’ campaign for confirmation of details on the senior official briefing.

The gathering ended with a Thursday evening appearance by DeSantis and his wife Casey DeSantis, where they thanked bundlers and, according to one attendee, awarded bundlers from California for being the state to raise the most money thus far.

“It’s exciting,” said Sandy Stillwell-Youngquist, a Florida business owner and first-time presidential bundler, about the $8.2 million raised on day one.

“I did vote for Trump, but he just wasn’t able to close his mouth when he needed to close his mouth, and that was so unfortunate,” she added. “I just think when you elect this president, you need to be able to see them do an eight-year term … what you have to really look at is down the road, what’s best for our nation.”

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