DeSantis to sit down with CNN’s Jake Tapper for rare interview
2023/07/17

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expanding his presidential campaign's media strategy, booking an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper for this week as he tries to close the polling gap with former President Donald Trump.

The Tuesday interview will come at the tail end of a policy rollout in South Carolina and air just days after reports indicated the DeSantis campaign had let go of roughly a dozen staffers.

Since launching his campaign back in May, DeSantis has largely limited his media appearances to conservative-friendly platforms and local outlets in early-voting states.

Critics, such as former Fox News host Megyn Kelly, have chided the Florida governor for not engaging with more adversarial reporters that are more likely to pepper him with hard-hitting questions.

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"There are people within the media who are still seeking the truth; we will engage with them. And we look forward to getting our the message out there to the American people," Bryan Griffin, a spokesperson for the DeSantis campaign, told The Post of the Tapper interview.

Tapper has interviewed DeSantis in the past, while Trump hasn't had a sit-down with "The Lead" host since making controversial remarks about the Ku Klux Klan in 2016.

The DeSantis team insists the CNN interview does not represent a shift in strategy, saying the first priority was fundraising before branching out into other media.

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Earlier this month, the campaign touted a whopping $20 million haul in the first six weeks after DeSantis jumped in the race May 24.

"The corporate media has gotten a lot wrong, and many outlets have an agenda. Therefore, we don't consider them entitled to time or access," Griffin said. "Nonetheless there are many good journalists and truth-seeking reporters, including in mainstream media outlets, and we will work with them on our terms. That's always been the plan."

DeSantis has granted interviews to some reporters from outside the conservative media world during his campaign, including NBC's Gabe Gutierrez — but none with the profile of Tapper, the cable network's lead Washington anchor and co-host of its Sunday news show, "State of the Union.

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CNN's recently ousted ex-boss Chris Licht notoriously sought to have the network mend fences with some prominent Republicans by toning down partisan undertones in its coverage.

The network has begun hosting town halls with 2024 Republican hopefuls, including Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, and former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

For now, the DeSantis team has refrained from hopping on the CNN town hall bandwagon.

"We don't do anything just because everybody else does it. But we're open to a wide range of media options, and if the relationship can get to a point where we feel like it would be worth our time, we'll do it," Griffin told The Post.

DeSantis currently trails Trump by an average of 32% among GOP primary voters, per the latest RealClearPolitics aggregate.

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