In November, Consultant Byron Donalds scored a coveted talking slot: introducing Gov. Ron DeSantis after a landslide re-election turned the swing state of Florida deep pink. Standing onstage at a victory occasion for Mr. DeSantis in Tampa, Mr. Donalds praised him as “America’s governor.”

By April, Mr. Donalds was seated at a desk subsequent to a different Florida Republican: Donald J. Trump. He was at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s non-public membership, for a multicourse dinner with 9 different Home Republicans from Florida who had spurned their home-state governor to endorse the previous president’s 2024 run. Purple “Make America Nice Once more” hats adorned their place settings.

In six brief months from November to Might, Mr. DeSantis’s 2024 run has faltered earlier than it has even begun.

Allies have deserted him. Tales of his icy interpersonal contact have unfold. Donors have groused. And a legislative session in Tallahassee designed to burnish his conservative credentials has as an alternative coincided with a drop within the polls.

His choice to not start any formal marketing campaign till after the Florida legislative session — permitting him to forged himself as a conservative fighter who not solely gained however truly delivered outcomes — as an alternative opened a window of alternative for Mr. Trump. The previous president stuffed the void with private assaults and a heavy rotation of damaging promoting from his tremendous PAC. Mixed with Mr. DeSantis’s cocooning himself within the right-wing media and the Trump crew’s success in outflanking him on a number of fronts, the governor has misplaced management of his personal nationwide narrative.

Now, as Mr. DeSantis’s Tallahassee-based operation pivots to formally getting into the race within the coming weeks, Mr. DeSantis and his allies are retooling for a extra aggressive new part. His staunchest supporters privately acknowledge that Mr. DeSantis must recalibrate a political outreach and media technique that has allowed Mr. Trump to outline the race.

Modifications are afoot. Mr. DeSantis is constructing a powerful Iowa operation. He has been calling influential Republicans in Iowa and is rolling out a big slate of state legislator endorsements earlier than a weekend journey there.

“He undoubtedly indicated that if he will get in, he’ll work exceptionally arduous — nothing will likely be beneath him,” mentioned Bob Vander Plaats, an influential Iowa evangelical chief whom Mr. DeSantis hosted not too long ago for a meal on the governor’s mansion. “I believe he understands — I emphasised that Iowa’s a retail politics state. You want to shake individuals’s arms, look them within the eye.”

Nonetheless, his central electability pitch — MAGA with out the mess — has been badly bruised.

A e book tour that was alleged to have launched him nationally was marked by missteps that deepened issues about his readiness for the most important stage. He took positions on two urgent home and worldwide points — abortion and the warfare in Ukraine — that generated second-guessing and backlash amongst some allies and would-be benefactors. And the strikes he has made to enchantment to the arduous proper — escalating his feud with Disney, signing a strict six-week abortion ban — have unnerved donors who’re nervous concerning the common election.

“I used to be within the DeSantis camp,” mentioned Andrew Sabin, a metals magnate who gave the Florida governor $50,000 final yr. “However he began opening his mouth, and numerous huge donors mentioned his views aren’t tolerable.” He particularly cited abortion and Ukraine.

Three billionaires who’re main G.O.P. donors — Steve Wynn, Ike Perlmutter and Thomas Peterffy, a previous DeSantis patron who has publicly soured on him — dined not too long ago with Vivek Ramaswamy, the 37-year-old long-shot Republican.

The early months of 2023 have uncovered a central problem for Mr. DeSantis. He must sew collectively an unwieldy ideological coalition bridging each anti-Trump Republicans and Trump supporters who’re nonetheless contemplating turning the web page on the previous president. Hitting and hugging Mr. Trump on the similar time has bedeviled rivals since Senator Ted Cruz tried to take action in 2016, and Cruz veterans fill key roles in Mr. DeSantis’s marketing campaign and his tremendous PAC.

Allies of each main Republicans warning that it’s nonetheless early.

Mr. DeSantis has greater than $100 million saved throughout numerous pro-DeSantis accounts. He’s constructing good will with state occasion leaders by headlining fund-raisers. He stays, in public polls, probably the most severe rival to Mr. Trump. And a supportive tremendous PAC known as By no means Again Down is staffing up throughout greater than a dozen states, has already spent greater than $10 million on tv adverts and has peppered early states with junk mail.

DeSantis supporters level to polls displaying that the governor stays well liked by Republicans.

“The hits aren’t working,” mentioned Kristin Davison, chief working officer of By no means Again Down. “His favorability has not modified.”

The DeSantis crew declined to supply any remark for this story.

Six months in the past, as Republicans had been blaming Mr. Trump for the occasion’s 2022 midterm underperformance, a high-flying Mr. DeSantis made the normal political choice that he would govern first in early 2023 and marketing campaign second. The push of conservative priorities that Mr. DeSantis has became legislation in Florida — on weapons, immigration, abortion, faculty vouchers, opposing China — is predicted to type the spine of his marketing campaign.

“Now, the governor can create momentum by spending time publicly touting his infinite accomplishments, calling supporters and fascinating extra publicly to push again on the false narratives his potential rivals are spewing,” mentioned Nick Iarossi, a lobbyist in Florida and a longtime DeSantis supporter.

A turning level this yr for Mr. Trump was his Manhattan indictment, which Mr. DeSantis waffled on responding to because the G.O.P. base rallied to Mr. Trump’s protection.

But Mr. Trump’s compounding authorized woes and potential future indictments might finally have the alternative impact — exhausting voters, which is Mr. DeSantis’s hope. A jury discovered Mr. Trump liable this week for sexual abuse and defamation. “Once you get all these lawsuits coming at you,” Mr. DeSantis advised one affiliate not too long ago, “it’s simply distracting.”

The DeSantis crew appeared to purchase its personal hype.

Days earlier than the midterms, the DeSantis marketing campaign launched a video that forged his rise as ordained from on excessive. “On the eighth day, God seemed down on his deliberate paradise and mentioned, ‘I would like a protector,’” a narrator booms as Mr. DeSantis seems onscreen. “So God made a fighter.”

For years, the self-confident Mr. DeSantis has relied on his personal instincts and the counsel of his spouse, Casey DeSantis, who posted the video, to set his political course, based on previous aides and present associates. Mr. DeSantis has been written off earlier than — in his first major for governor; in his first congressional major — so each he and his spouse have gotten used to tuning out critics.

Right this moment, allies say there are few individuals round who’re keen to inform Mr. DeSantis he’s unsuitable, even in non-public.

In late 2022, the pondering was {that a} choice on 2024 might wait, and Mr. Trump’s midterm hangover would linger. Mr. DeSantis revealed a e book — “I used to be, you already know, type of a sizzling commodity,” he mentioned of writing it — that grew to become a finest vendor. And Mr. DeSantis was on the offensive, tweaking Mr. Trump with a February donor retreat held solely miles from Mar-a-Lago that drew Trump contributors.

Nevertheless it has been Mr. Trump who has persistently one-upped Mr. DeSantis, flying into East Palestine, Ohio, after the rail catastrophe there, showing with a bigger crowd in the identical Iowa metropolis days after Mr. DeSantis and swiping Florida congressional endorsements whereas Mr. DeSantis traveled to Washington.

One Trump endorser, Consultant Lance Gooden of Texas, backed the previous president solely hours after attending a personal group assembly with Mr. DeSantis. In an interview, Mr. Gooden likened Mr. DeSantis’s choice to delay entry till after a legislative session to the instance of a previous Texas governor, Rick Perry, who did the identical a decade in the past — and rapidly flamed out of the 2012 contest.

“He’s relied, very similar to Rick Perry did, on native political consultants in his residence state that simply don’t know the presidential panorama,” Mr. Gooden mentioned.

Mr. Trump has insinuated, with out offering proof, that Mr. DeSantis had inappropriate relationships with highschool ladies throughout a stint as a instructor within the early 2000s and that Mr. DeSantis could be homosexual.

His crew has portrayed Mr. DeSantis as socially inept, and a pro-Trump tremendous PAC distributed a video — dubbed “Pudding Fingers” — taking part in off information articles about Mr. DeSantis’s uncouth consuming habits.

Folks near Mr. Trump have been blunt in non-public discussions that the hits thus far are simply the beginning: If Mr. DeSantis ever seems poised to seize the nomination, the previous president will do all the things he can to tear him aside.

Starting together with his response to the coronavirus outbreak, Mr. DeSantis’s nationwide rise has been uniquely powered by his capacity to make the appropriate enemies: in academia, within the information media, amongst liberal activists and on the White Home. However Mr. Trump’s broadsides and a few of his personal actions have put Mr. DeSantis crosswise with the appropriate for the primary time. It has been a disorienting expertise for the DeSantis operation, based on allies.

For the previous three years, Mr. DeSantis has had the luxurious of fully shutting out what he pejoratively manufacturers the “nationwide regime media” or “the company media” — although Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Company doesn’t, in his view, rely as company media.

This technique served Mr. DeSantis effectively in Florida. However avoiding sit-down interviews with skeptical journalists has left him out of shape as he prepares for probably the most intense scrutiny of his profession.

“The Murdochs encapsulated him in a bubble and force-fed him to a conservative viewers,” mentioned Steve Bannon, a former strategist for Mr. Trump. “He hasn’t been scuffed up. He hasn’t had these questions put in his grill.”

Even in pleasant settings, Mr. DeSantis has stumbled. In a February interview with The Instances of London, a Murdoch property, Mr. DeSantis reduce off questions after the reporter pushed him on how he thought President Biden ought to deal with Ukraine in a different way.

The previous Fox Information host Tucker Carlson was so irked by Mr. DeSantis’s evasion that he despatched an in depth questionnaire to potential Republican presidential candidates to power them to state their positions on the warfare, based on two individuals conversant in his choice.

In a written response, Mr. DeSantis characterised Russia’s invasion as a “territorial dispute.” Republican hawks and a few of Mr. DeSantis’s high donors had been troubled. In public, the governor quickly cleaned up his assertion to say Russia had not had “a proper” to invade. In non-public, Mr. DeSantis tried to calm supporters by noting that his assertion had not taken a place towards assist to Ukraine.

Whereas Mr. DeSantis has caught to his most popular method of doing issues, Mr. Trump has given seats on his airplane to reporters from shops which have revealed harsh tales about him. And regardless of having spent years calling CNN “pretend information,” Mr. Trump not too long ago attended a CNN city corridor.

DeSantis allies mentioned the governor would begrudgingly herald among the “nationwide regime media.” Some early proof: The governor’s tight-lipped crew invited a Politico columnist to Tallahassee and provided uncommon on-the-record entry.

Not lengthy after Mr. DeSantis had gained in a landslide final fall, the incoming freshman, Consultant Cory Mills, a Florida Republican, known as the governor’s crew to attempt to thank him for his help. Mr. Mills had campaigned on the eve of the election with Casey DeSantis and had appeared with the governor, too. “I known as to point out my appreciation and by no means even received a name again,” Mr. Mills mentioned in an interview. “To be trustworthy with you, I used to be a bit insulted by it.”

The dearth of relationships on Capitol Hill grew to become a public headache in April when Mr. Trump rolled out what finally grew to become 10 Florida Home Republican endorsements throughout Mr. DeSantis’s journey to Washington.

Donors who contributed to Mr. DeSantis’s earlier campaigns inform tales of conferences wherein the candidate seemed as if he would relatively be wherever else. He fiddled together with his cellphone, confirmed no real interest in his hosts and escaped as rapidly as potential. However individuals who have not too long ago met with Mr. DeSantis say he has been way more engaged. At latest Wisconsin and New Hampshire occasions, the governor labored the room as he had hardly ever carried out earlier than.

The governor and his crew have had inner conversations acknowledging the necessity for him to interact within the fundamentals of political courtship: small speak, handshaking, eye contact.

For his half, Mr. Trump not too long ago relished internet hosting the Florida Home Republicans who had endorsed him.

On one aspect of him was Mr. Mills. On the opposite was Mr. Donalds, who had launched Mr. DeSantis on election evening and who had been in Mr. DeSantis’s orbit since serving to with debate prep throughout Mr. DeSantis’s 2018 run for governor.

Mr. Donalds declined an interview. However footage of these non-public debate-prep classes, first reported by ABC Information, reveals Mr. DeSantis making an attempt to formulate a solution to a query that may outline his imminent 2024 run: find out how to disagree with Mr. Trump with out showing unpleasant to Trump supporters.

“I’ve to border it in a method,” Mr. DeSantis mentioned then, “that’s not going to piss off all his voters.”