Begun The Trump-DeSantis War Has
If there was any doubt that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was not running for president against former President Donald Trump, his comments this week should’ve put those doubts to bed.
First up, DeSantis commented on the possible indictment of Trump by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. DeSantis condemned the prosecution as a political stunt by Bragg. But he also took a shot at Trump.
From NBC News:
When DeSantis finally spoke Monday at a news conference in Tallahassee, Florida, he took shots at Bragg — and at Trump.
“Circus” and “Soros,” DeSantis said of the grand jury probe and of George Soros, the billionaire liberal donor. “Hush money” and “porn star,” he added, repeating the allegation against Trump.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do know this: The Manhattan district attorney is a Soros-funded prosecutor,” he said, accusing Bragg of weaponizing his office to go after Trump while overlooking other crimes. (Soros, through the Color of Change PAC, supported Bragg’s election campaign.)
But DeSantis added: “I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair. I just, I can’t speak to that.”
Trump responded by basically calling DeSantis a homosexual groomer.
Trump took to Truth Social to say it would be unfair if DeSantis were attacked for grooming young girls or being gay. Trump’s post didn’t leave much to the imagination: It included a picture of a man, allegedly a younger DeSantis, standing with a group of young women, one of whom is holding a bottle.
“Ron DeSanctimonious will probably find out about FALSE ACCUSATIONS & FAKE STORIES sometime in the future, as he gets older, wiser and better known, when he’s unfairly and illegally attacked by a woman, even classmates that are ‘underage’ (or possibly a man!),” Trump wrote. “I’m sure he will want to fight these misfits just like I do!”
DeSantis upped the ante by appearing on Piers Morgan’s Fox Nation show and giving him an exclusive interview. He basically called Trump a low-IQ, incompetent degenerate.
From the New York Post:
When I asked DeSantis to cite specific differences between him and Trump, he said: “Well, I think there’s a few things. The approach to COVID was different. I would have fired somebody like Fauci. I think he got way too big for his britches, and I think he did a lot of damage.”
DeSantis also slammed Trump’s chaotic, self-obsessed, divisive management style: “I also think just in terms of my approach to leadership, I get personnel in the government who have the agenda of the people and share our agenda. You bring your own agenda in, you’re gone. We’re just not gonna have that. So, the way we run the government, I think, is no daily drama, focus on the big picture and put points on the board, and I think that’s something that’s very important.”
As for the rude nicknames, he mocked: “I don’t know how to spell the sanctimonious one. I don’t really know what it means, but I kinda like it, it’s long, it’s got a lot of vowels. We’ll go with that, that’s fine. I mean, you can call me whatever you want, just as long as you also call me a winner because that’s what we’ve been able to do in Florida, is put a lot of points on the board and really take this state to the next level.”
The 2024 Republican presidential primary and it’s very clear these two are not teaming up. Right now, Trump is the undisputed frontrunner but DeSantis has not even officially entered the race.
If DeSantis wants to beat Trump, he has to thread the needle between the pre-Trump GOP and the post-Trump GOP. DeSantis’s base is a very broad one that consists of people who think he will do a better job implementing the MAGA America First agenda than Trump would. But it also contains a lot of people who would like to turn back the clock to the pre-Trump GOP and a lot of people in between the two. DeSantis has to figure out how to thread that needle.
DeSantis really cannot afford to lose either part of that base he’s building. His walk back of his Ukraine comments and comments criticizing Trump’s post-election conduct is meant to appeal to more establishment Republicans. He hopes his record in Florida appeals to more populist conservatives.
Ultimately DeSantis is going to have to come up with a platform that satisfies his very diverse base while appealing to soft Trump supporters and undecided voters. DeSantis also has to think about winning over independents in a general election at the same time. It’s a very tough needle to thread but it’s his only chance of defeating Trump in the primary.
DeSantis and Trump will undoubtedly continue to trade insults and they will be very vicious. But getting into an insult contest with Trump will probably not pay off in the long run. Instead, DeSantis has to show the way forward for a post-Trump GOP.