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Fox News
Fox News
22 Apr 2023


Former Nevada attorney general Adam Laxalt has signed up for a new mission — to help his longtime friend and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis win the presidency.

Laxalt is joining the pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down as chair, the group confirmed to Fox News on Saturday.

Officials with Never Back Down, which is the top outside group backing an expected 2024 presidential campaign by DeSantis, said that Laxalt had been involved unofficially with the super PAC for weeks and is now coming on board in an official capacity. 

DeSantis and Laxalt have a long history together. The pair were roommates during their days at the Naval Justice School, and both spent time in the Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps in the mid-2000s, before they both entered politics.

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Laxalt

Nevada Republican Senate nominee Adam Laxalt speaks at a Republican midterm election night party at Red Rock Casino on November 8, 2022, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Laxalt, a former Attorney General of Nevada, narrowly lost his bid to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.  (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Last year, as Laxalt ran for the Senate in battleground Nevada as the GOP nominee with an endorsement of former President Donald Trump, DeSantis visited the state to campaign with his friend. Laxalt narrowly lost his bid to defeat Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.

The super PAC was founded early last month by Ken Cuccinelli, the former Virginia attorney general and 2013 gubernatorial nominee who later served as acting deputy homeland security director during the last two years of the Trump administration.

PRO-DESANTIS SUPER PAC TOUTES MAJOR FUNDRAISING HAUL

Super PAC officials told Fox News that his role as the group’s founder continues and that there are no changes to his role or responsibilities.

Ken Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general and the 2013 GOP gubernatorial nominee who later served as acting deputy homeland security director during the last two years of former President Donald Trump’s administration, recently formed a pro-Ron DeSantis super PAC. Cuccinelli spoke with Fox News Digital on March 17, 2023, in Manchester, N.H.  (Fox News )

Word of the moves at Never Back Down first came from a senior adviser with Trump's 2024 White House campaign. Chris LaCavita took to social media on Friday evening to spotlight what he called a "campaign shakeup" at the super PAC.

While DeSantis remains on the 2024 sidelines, he’s expected to launch a presidential campaign sometime after the end of Florida’s legislative session, which concludes next month. But behind the scenes, he’s already made plenty of moves toward launching a campaign, including beefing up staff in Tallahassee. And in recent weeks, he’s made campaign-style stops in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, the first three states to vote in the GOP presidential nominating calendar.

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Most public opinion polls in the burgeoning GOP presidential nomination race show DeSantis in second place, trailing only Trump, with everyone else in the field of actual and potential contenders in single digits.

Adam Laxalt and Donald Trump

Nevada Republican nominee for U.S. Senate Adam Laxalt speaks to former U.S. president Donald Trump during a rally ahead of the midterm elections, in Minden, Nevada, October 8, 2022. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Trump, who launched his third White House bid in November, has repeatedly targeted DeSantis for months. 

WHO'S IN AND WHO'S ON THE SIDELINES — YOUR GUIDE TO THE 2024 GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION RACE

Last weekend, Never Back Down launched its first TV ad, a spot that targeted Trump, which ran on "Fox News Sunday."

And this past week, the super PAC started running a positive commercial about DeSantis. 

Ron DeSantis at Heritage confab

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida speaks at a Heritage Foundation leadership summit, on April 21, 2023, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland (Fox News )

On Thursday, the group went up with mailers in the early-voting nominating states, explaining why DeSantis should be the next Republican nominee.

The super PAC took another shot at Trump on Saturday, "offering Trump financial assistance to help him leave Florida and move to his beloved California, so he can be close to his good buddy @GavinNewsom."

The attacks from Never Back Down come in the wake a full court press from MAGA Inc., the top super PAC backing Trump, to target DeSantis.

A recent ad by MAGA Inc., titled "Pudding Fingers," which attacked DeSantis on Social Security and Medicare and mocked the Florida governor for allegedly once eating pudding with his fingers, grabbed plenty of national attention.

Super PACs, also known as "independent expenditure-only committees," can legally raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, and spend unlimited sums to support or oppose political candidates. Unlike traditional PACs, they are prohibited under long-standing federal rules from either coordinating or contributing directly to a candidate or their campaign. 

Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire.