GOP presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis appears to be rethinking his press strategy. The Florida governor, who has largely ignored the mainstream media in favor of friendly conservative outlets and taken a combative approach to reporters, is scheduled to sit down with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday for an exclusive interview, the network announced Sunday. The interview marks DeSantis’s first appearance on the network—and his first sit-down interview with any mainstream outlet other than Fox News—since launching his presidential campaign in May. The Wall Street Journal hinted at the “strategy shift” underway inside DeSantisworld earlier this month, in reporting that the campaign planned to do more mainstream media interviews “around a series of policy proposals he will lay out in the coming weeks.” The Washington Post also reported such plans over the weekend, noting that the campaign already “has started rolling out national policy—economic issues next, then foreign policy in August.” 

These moves come as DeSantis’s campaign continues to struggle to break into Donald Trump‘s lead. “There is a strong argument to be made—not an irrefutable one—that it could be too little too late,” a political reporter who covers Republicans told me of the DeSantis camp’s media reset. “DeSantis can do these types of events and interviews, but his utter hatred of the mainstream non-Fox media, coupled with the fact that he has set up a governing and campaign structure that allowed him to avoid these types of situations, could leave him a little rusty.” In other words, being “someone that voters like enough to vote for, rather than being merely the vessel of negative partisanship,” could be a difficult transition for the politician. But there’s still time, they added. “We’ll see.”

In an interview with Fox Business last week, the candidate blamed the media for his campaign’s sluggish polls. “I think it’s pretty clear that the media does not want me to be their candidate,” DeSantis said when asked how he plans to overcome Trump’s substantial lead. “They’ve tried to create a narrative that somehow the race is over.” DeSantis has stated that he is focused on winning the early state contests, like Iowa—an apparent effort to cut into Trump’s momentum. Still, his lagging numbers in national polls has caused even Rupert Murdoch‘s media empire itself to seemingly sour on DeSantis’s chances, with reports that Murdoch is privately looking for other candidates (like Glenn Youngkin) to jump in the race, or even willing to back to Trump if he can win. (Murdoch has not publicly responded to these reports.)

If that’s the case, a broadened media strategy may be required of DeSantis. Still, his team “insists the CNN interview does not represent a shift in strategy, saying the first priority was fundraising before branching out into other media,” according to the New York Post. The Florida governor’s campaign clearly hasn’t entirely shifted its tone when it comes to the mainstream press. “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,” Bryan Griffin, a spokesperson for the DeSantis campaign, told the tabloid. “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.”

Media appearances aren’t the only changes at Team DeSantis. The presidential campaign is shedding staff as it looks to refocus on January’s Iowa caucus and cut costs, with Politico reporting that fewer than 10 staffers were let go last week and NBC reporting that more cost-cutting related dismissals are expected in the coming weeks. Further, two senior advisers on DeSantis’s presidential campaign are leaving to help run a pro-DeSantis outside effort. The outside group is “expected to host events, as part of what the campaign is describing as a ‘DeSantis is everywhere strategy,’ as he looks to compete in early nominating states, including Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina,” Politico reports. He’ll also be scaling back travel to prioritize trips to such states, Bloomberg notes.

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