Only DeSantis can stop DeSantis
Over the years, I have followed a number of politicians who hinted at running for President of the United States only to demur at the last moment. Mostly they were driven by a desire to keep their names in the news and their influence at a peak. It is the same reason that President Biden says he is running for re-election in 2024 – even though public sentiment and pundit predictions are heavily weighted against his running – or winning if he does.
President Trump has been sending out signals that he is preparing for a return to the Oval Office in 2024. Whether he will run – or can win – is far from certain.
The most formidable potential candidate for 2024 is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. He is a very popular governor in a very important state – ironically, the same state that Trump now calls HIS home.
As is his nature, Trump measures a person based on how that person fits into his current plans. Trump never develops long-term friendships – personal or political. Consequently, DeSantis – who was described as “close to Trump” appears to be falling out of favor with the former President.
The reason is simple. DeSantis is not only being mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2024 but there are also those who see the possibility of the Florida Governor actually entering the race against Trump. On that possibility alone, Trump is starting to bad-mouth DeSantis – at least in private.
Trump seems also bothered that in various Republican straw polls, DeSantis is right up there with Trump in terms of popularity with the GOP base. In a couple of polls, he took first place away from Trump.
For his part, DeSantis has done nothing to discourage speculation about a 2024 bid for the presidency. He has been seen travelling to key primary states for speeches and get-acquainted sessions with Party leaders.
Trump tries to indirectly diminish DeSantis as a potential opponent by telling folks that DeSantis is nothing special – and would never have been elected Governor were it not for Trump’s endorsement.
In reality, DeSantis was – and arguably still is – a much more popular political figure than Trump – even in Florida. DeSantis was a very popular member of Congress – having served from 2013 to 2018, when he was elected Governor.
Trump has every reason to worry about DeSantis. I have expressed my opinion in the past that he would beat Trump in the race for the GOP presidential nomination – and even beat Trump in Florida. I have also said that DeSantis should run – and that he should announce immediately, ahead of a definitive statement by Trump.
Trump cannot flip on DeSantis as he has on so many other leading Republican figures – including Vice President Pence, former Attorney General William Barr, and his own former UN Ambassador Nicki Haley. DeSantis is already too popular with the base. Treating DeSantis like a traitor would only backfire on Trump.
If Trump is on the fence about a run for a second term, DeSantis getting into the race could push Trump to bow out. I personally do not believe that Trump is fully committed to another run – and the potential of losing in the primaries may be worse than not running in Trump’s view.
Trump cannot force DeSantis out of the race. The only question is whether he can scare DeSantis into taking a pass this season. After all, if you consider the ages of the current pretenders to the throne, DeSantis could run any time in the next 36 years. He would be 79 years old in 2060. Trump will be 78 at the time of the 2024 election – and Biden would be days away from his 82nd birthday at the time of the 2024 presidential election.
At this moment, DeSantis appears to have the best pathway to the presidency of any potential contender – including Trump. Yes, I know that Trump and Democrats proffer the argument that he has a lock on the GOP and the 2024 nomination, but I say, “not really.” Not only is 2024 a propitious moment for DeSantis, but it would also be a good thing for the Republican Party … and the nation.
Trump cannot beat DeSantis – so he cannot stop him. Only DeSantis can stop DeSantis.
So, there ‘tis.
Author Post Script: No sooner was this commentary uploaded than a new poll shows that DeSantis would beat Trump in the first-of-the-nation New Hampshire primary 39 to 37 percent. With Florida likely in the DeSantis camp, we are beginning to see his pathway to the presidency – or at least the closing of Trump’s.