It could easily be asserted the establishment media got exactly what it craved last week when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made it official that he’s running for president.
Most of us weren’t there to hear the talkers’ collective reactions, but they must’ve been akin to, “Finally, something new to write about!” or, “Did you finalize that list of ‘gotcha’ questions for DeSantis yet?” or, “How is the research into his family’s background going? Anything there to sensationalize? Any reputations to ruin?” or, and most importantly, “Can we somehow sink DeSantis’s and Trump’s campaigns at the same time?”
The political world changed the moment DeSantis decided to give 2024 a go. Ron starts out way behind in the polls, of course, but there’s still plenty of time until Iowa votes and a thousand things could happen between now and then. Some notable political minds think it’s very possible for the badly trailing DeSantis to eat into the lead, and possibly overtake Trump.
“Karl Rove is predicting that the anticipated race between former President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) in the GOP presidential primary will get closer in the coming months. Despite Trump leading DeSantis in the polls, Rove told Fox News that ‘we've seen the front-runners fade’ in the past, and the same could be true about the former president.
“’We're likely to see the polls sort of close a little bit over the next couple of months. There could be big changes, comparatively big changes, by the time following the debates,’ Rove said. ‘But remember, at this point in 2008, Rudy Giuliani was way ahead and so was Hillary Clinton … In 2012, 30 days before the Iowa caucuses, Newt Gingrich was ahead.
“’You know, we've seen the front-runner and admittedly, President Trump is not the normal front-runner, but we've seen the front-runners fade when people get to know more about the other candidates in the race and find somebody else more attractive,’ he continued.”
Basically, everything Rove said was true, except for his final observation. “More attractive” is in the eye of the beholder, and it’s highly doubtful that Donald Trump’s hardened backers are going to find a competitor, for a lack of a nobler way to put it, better looking. DeSantis is almost as nondescript in appearance as Trump is noteworthy. And that’s just scratching the surface. The fact that Trump has already been through what amounts to two full presidential campaigns makes this primary dynamic unlike any of the ones Rove referred to. History is suspended here in this moment.
But the chance of the GOP horserace tightening is scintillating to the establishment, of which Karl Rove is a charter member. Any movement in the polls will attract swamp creatures to it like Black Friday shoppers to a sale, because the bluebloods hate Donald Trump just that much. The mystery is whether they’ll like Ron DeSantis better in the long run or if the Floridian is just the lone alternative who’s seen as a threat to Trump right now.
To the Republican ruling elites, DeSantis becomes the “default choice”, even if many of the governor’s policies would be even more revolting to the status quo than Trump’s would.
All the world wonders what it will mean with DeSantis actually going around campaigning rather than deflecting the incessant “will you run?” questions for the thousandth time. Now it’s game on. Gauntlets thrown. Bets are hedged. There’s no going back now. DeSantis took the deep dive… will he slowly narrow Trump’s margin? Or will the opposite take place?
The heretofore unthinkable: Does Donald Trump benefit from having Ron DeSantis in the race? Judging by the establishment media’s abrupt turn away from Trump to DeSantis after the latter announced his candidacy, Trump could theoretically now enjoy a relatively “quiet” period free of (some) of the left’s most intense fury, where the former president will be set loose to concentrate his fire on whomever he selects. And unfortunately, the way it looks, Trump will aim the balance of his ammunition at the Florida governor rather than the true enemy in the White House and his Democrat allies in Congress.
From what I’ve observed, the left’s point-of-view has two “shiny objects” to fixate upon at current – their eternal enemy in the big orange man costume and the relatively new, yet-to-be-branded person of the much lesser-known Florida governor. Sure, DeSantis’s name has been bandied about quite a bit for the past few years, the terrified “woke” crowd turning up their amplifiers every time DeSantis did something they didn’t like, which was a lot.
Name an issue, and there’s something for every judgmental and uninformed leftist to loathe about the mid-forties guy with a very non-Trumpian hairstyle and a penchant for choosing his next “woke” target based on whatever will draw him the most invective from the left.
How about Gun rights? Sure. DeSantis announced he’s in favor of going back to the pre-Marjorie Stoneman (Parkland) days when 18-year-old adults could legally purchase rifles. Elections integrity? Yup. DeSantis established a commission to look into cleansing the state’s voter rolls, and from what I’ve heard, it’s been very successful. Abortion? There too, the governor took advantage of the Dobbs decision to protect human life after the sixth week of pregnancy, matching the laws of other pro-life states.
DeSantis has taken on China (barring ownership of Florida land); he’s battled Disney; he’s made his state safe for parents who want their kids to be taught the three R’s rather than early indoctrination into flexible gender identity and alternative lifestyle sexuality. In essence, DeSantis was saying “Don’t force that crap down our throats” and was willing to stand up to the teacher’s unions and declare that Florida taxpayers wouldn’t pay for it.
DeSantis has also gotten personally involved in campaigns to replace wayward leftist school board members, open up social media to all political points of view and, needless to say, defied the federal health dictators when it came to COVID policy. He’s been called a “negligent, homicidal sociopath” (by Joy Behar on “The View”) for ditching stupid mask mandates, a racist by the NAACP (among others) and all variants of other smears by people who hate him.
Compared to all the rest, Trump’s taunt of “DeSanctimonious” ain’t lookin’ so bad now, is it?
Democrats instinctively understand that their voter base doesn’t know much about anything, and certainly doesn’t delve into news reports beyond what they see in social media posts, so the sneaky pols will spend the next several months digging and digging and digging some more to unearth every little tidbit of potentially damaging information on DeSantis, which they’ll then spin into a talking point for wider distribution to the establishment media, which will be all too happy to disseminate it in ways that will make the new candidate look bad.
As Scott McKay predicted last week at The American Spectator, DeSantis is about to face a year’s (or more) worth of the most intense animosity he’ll ever experience. It’s almost a race against time for the left to depict DeSantis as the worst thing since… well, Trump, and the Democrats might not survive if normal people continue thinking that Florida is a great place to live and visit and it’s largely due to the governor’s political policies that made citizens happy. All of this anti-DeSantis attention will certainly aid Trump, not only in his greater battle to gain traction in a possible rematch with senile Joe Biden in the 2024 election, but also in his “first things first” quest to win the Republican presidential nomination. From now on, Trump can deflect any negative question towards DeSantis, effectively killing two birds with one verbal barb.
And all of this will help Trump reinforce his previously stated philosophy that all publicity is good, even if it’s negative. Even Trump would likely concede that having DeSantis in the Republican race will amp up the media’s coverage on his own candidacy, especially when the Floridian utters something most people would construe as an “attack” or a “jab” at Trump personally. There will be plenty of opportunities for DeSantis to do so as time goes on and Trump’s legal and criminal matters progress. There could be a point where DeSantis is asked to weigh-in more on Trump’s foibles than on his own platform, background, record and ideas. One could liken it to the world’s best professional golfers being asked to comment on Tiger Woods’ latest injury or scandal instead of their world ranking, the LIV tour, or the tournament they just won. The sleaze-seeking bloodthirsty journos just want smut and don’t give a hoot about the crucial choice Americans need to make next year.
Naturally, if he’s serious about winning his party’s nomination, DeSantis must not allow himself to become the story in the ongoing campaign. If there’s too much negative focus on Ron, Trump’s numbers would probably grow larger, since DeSantis hasn’t been fully defined yet. Therefore, the Floridian newcomer has quite the challenge ahead of him.
Karl Rove was correct – Ron DeSantis can make up the polling deficit. But a lot of things would need to go DeSantis’s way in order for him to accomplish it. There’s a good argument that Trump benefits no matter what DeSantis does, and time and events must play out before we discover the aftereffects of Gov. Ron’s presence in the race.
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