Trump tries to taunt DeSantis with the 'kiss of death,' and more campaign takeaways

The Florida governor fired back with a "Trump accident tracker."

ByABC News
October 24, 2023, 6:15 PM

Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis traded memes and criticisms while, elsewhere on the trail, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott made an unusual warning about Chinese students in the U.S., President Joe Biden slammed a decision to restrict abortion in a key swing state -- and a suspected Democratic primary candidate may have just sent out his first bus of the cycle.

Here are Tuesday's campaign takeaways.

The 'kiss of death' for DeSantis? No way, he says

Former President Trump and his campaign spent the day seizing on the 60-day deadline of what he has called the "kiss of death" timeline for GOP primary rival DeSantis.

That refers to a deadline set by a DeSantis-aligned super PAC strategist telling donors ahead of the first primary debate that the Florida governor had 60 days to catch up to Trump, who remains the most popular candidate in polling, with DeSantis at No. 2.

Trump's team launched a "kiss of death" countdown and has been posting social media compilations of DeSantis' gaffes throughout the cycle -- as well as fundraising off of it. The DeSantis campaign fired back with a "Trump accident tracker."

Asked by ABC News about the focus on the "kiss of death," DeSantis downplayed it entirely.

"They [the super PAC] do what they want to do. I think that that's fine. I don't think very many people think that that was a very smart thing to do with whatever was going on with that," he said, adding, "We go in and let it rip."

DeSantis then criticized Trump for not participating in any of the debates. Trump has said he sees no point, given his lead.

-ABC News' Hannah Demissie and Lalee Ibssa

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump during a campaign event in Derry, N.H. Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during the 2023 First in the Nation Leadership Summit in Nashua, N.H.
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump looks on during a campaign event, Oct. 23, 2023, in Derry, N.H. Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during the 2023 First in the Nation Leadership Summit, Oct. 13, 2023, in Nashua, N.H.
Getty Images

Biden officially bows out of New Hampshire

The Biden campaign will officially not file for him to be on the ballot for the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary amid an ongoing conflict between the state, which is mandated by law to vote first in the primary, and the national Democratic Party that changed its primary calendar to prioritize states that it feels are more representative of its voters, like Michigan and South Carolina.

In a letter to the New Hampshire Democratic Party, the Biden campaign wrote, "While the president wishes to participate in the primary, he is obligated… to comply with the Delegate Selection Rules."

State Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley responded on X saying that Biden will still "win the nomination in Chicago and will be reelected next November.”

-ABC News' Kelsey Walsh

Scott singles out Chinese national students

During a speech at a stop in Indianola, Iowa, Scott seemed to tell the crowd that they should be wary of Chinese foreign national students on college campuses.

"I am concerned that we are more interested in their tuition [and] we aren't sure whether they're reporting back to the Chinese Communist Party," he said.

He prefaced the comments by saying "This is not necessarily the most popular thing I'm gonna say."

At the second stop, in Creston, Iowa, Scott was asked by a reporter whether or not he was questioning those students' allegiance. He responded, "Yes."

-ABC News' Gabriella Abdul-Hakim, Libby Cathey and Fritz Farrow

Biden decries Georgia anti-abortion ruling

The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the state's six-week abortion ban in a new ruling -- keeping the status quo and drawing a sharp reaction from President Joe Biden's reelection campaign as Democrats focus on the issue, which polls show have been motivating for some voters in the past.

"Today's decision in Georgia is a direct result of Donald Trump, Brian Kemp, and MAGA Republicans' attacks on a woman's fundamental freedom to make her own health care decisions. As MAGA Republicans running for president champion a national abortion ban, the stakes couldn't be higher," Biden's campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, said in a statement.

In his own statement, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp praised the news after publicly supporting the restrictive law last year on the campaign trail: "Today's victory represents one more step towards ending this litigation and ensuring the lives of Georgians at all ages are protected."

-ABC News' Gabriella Abdul-Hakim, Libby Cathey and Fritz Farrow

Dean Phillips seems to roll closer to 2024 launch

As speculation continues over whether Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips will enter the 2024 presidential race and challenge Biden in the Democratic primary, a bus with "Dean Phillips for President" on the side was spotted in Ohio and first reported by a local Minnesota radio station on X.

The trajectory of the bus would seem to put it on track to arrive in New Hampshire in time for Friday's filing deadline to compete in the Democratic primary there.

The bus slogan state, "Make America Affordable Again" and includes Phillips signature line, "Everyone's invited!"

A source familiar with Phillips previously told ABC News over the weekend that he hadn't made a final decision about running but was making preparations and was close to jumping in.

National Democrats have rallied around Biden's bid for a second term, though he already faces a long shot challenge from speaker and author Marianne Williamson.

-ABC News' Kelsey Walsh

Sununu teases an endorsement in GOP primary

In a joint radio interview with DeSantis, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, who has relished his prominent role as a popular leader in an early voting state, said there were "a couple candidates that I could definitely endorse" for the Republican presidential nomination.

He later said he would likely back someone who is or has been the governor of a state -- which would eliminate candidates like Scott and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

"As soon as I know, I'll let everybody else know. I mean, really, I'm not very good at being coy," Sununu told host Jack Heath.

"I think the third debate is going to be really impactful," he added. "You're going to have a smaller crowd, they're all going to have a little more airtime."

"And, you know, if I make an endorsement, I make an endorsement," he said. "Don't put too much stock in my endorsement."

-ABC News' Will McDuffie and Hannah Demissie