Saturday, May 25, 2024

Is There a Democrat Operative Inside the DeSantis Campaign?

I perused the list of Ron DeSantis’s campaign staff with an eye out for the mole. I mean, what other explanation is there? How could a campaign have been bungled so badly that the candidate isn’t just going to lose an election, but he’s probably ruined his political future?

A Candidacy Doomed Before It Started

Ballotpedia lists Jame Uthmeir as the DeSantis campaign manager, and Ryan Tyson, Jason Johnson and Gennera Peck as senior advisors.

If I was Ron, I would jettison every one of them if they were guilty of encouraging me to run in 2024.

It’s truly a forehead slapping, “What the hell was he thinking?” moment.

Early in the campaign during a debate prep session, DeSantis saw his future dilemma clearly. Matt Gaetz posed this question: “Is there any issue upon which you disagree with President Trump?” DeSantis paused before replying, “Obviously, there is. I mean, I voted contrary to him in the Congress, (but) I have to frame it in a way that’s not going to piss off all of his voters.” Later, he added, “If I have a disagreement, I talk to him in private.”

In that brief exchange, DeSantis elucidated exactly why he should have patiently waited until the 2028 cycle, when he probably would have inherited a large chunk of Trump’s base. Threading the needle in politics is nearly impossible, as DeSantis soon found out. The road is littered with politicians who tried to play both sides of the fence, but it never works in the long run.

One Bad Decision After Another

While DeSantis blames all his problems on Trump’s indictments, he has to know it was a series of bad decisions that led to his demise. At best, DeSantis was always doomed to be Trump light. As Vivek Ramaswamy forged new ground by appealing to younger voters, DeSantis tried to out-tough Trump to the point of absurdity. I mean, is it really necessary to talk about flattening the Bahamas if it attacked Fort Lauderdale? Throughout his campaign, DeSantis was stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. For a while, he simply parroted Trump’s policies, but when he realized that tactic wasn’t connecting with voters, he began to attack Trump on issues such as Covid lockdowns and being pro LBGQIA+, which resulted in the kind of blowback he was hoping to avoid: It pissed off Trump’s base.  

Sure, there were other inexplicable strategic blunders. Spending more on private jets than TV ads may not have been the best use of resources, and ignoring social media wasn’t going to help win the under 40 vote. Still, I’m not sure any of it really mattered.

DeSantis waited until the 2023 Florida legislative session ended before announcing in May he was running for president, but Trump learned of the decision months in advance and started lobbing cluster bombs in January. Perhaps most damaging was a seemingly endless series of 2018 gubernatorial campaign commercials Trump pulled out of the archives that showed DeSantis heaping lavish praise on MAGA and the former president. Trump pounded DeSantis with charges of disloyalty and sagging poll numbers for months, and somewhere along the way, DeSantis realized that anything negative he said about Trump boomeranged and hit him right between the eyes.

And Now the Debate

Perhaps it’s a fitting end, but I still don’t like to see a good man kicked when he’s down. Let’s hope someone on the DeSantis team has the courage to tell him not to show up for the January 10th and January 21st televised GOP debates, which are not sanctioned by the RNC. CNN has figured out a way to eliminate Ramaswamy, so only Nikki Haley and DeSantis will take the stage. While we’re thankful we won’t have to listen to bitter Chris Christie spew his poisonous bile, the idea of the George Bush clone versus The Guy Who Never Should Have Run is about as appealing as watching a rerun of Chris Cuomo interviewing his brother during Covid lockdowns. The Dick Cheney in heels neocon locking horns with the guy who was once the rising star of the Republican party will likely result in the lowest rated debates in television history. Frankly, it’s beyond sad. Meanwhile, the present leader of the Republican party (Trump) will be doing a town hall on Fox, while the future of the Republican party (Ramaswamy) will be at an event with podcaster Tim Pool in Des Moines.

If he follows through and participates in the CNN debates, its rock bottom for DeSantis, and it will only serve to shovel dirt on a campaign that’s already a dead man walking. I guess the only upside is that DeSantis will be debating someone America First doesn’t really like, so he can at least unload on Haley without negative consequences.

The Future for DeSantis

It’s hard to know if the self-inflicted damage DeSantis has done to himself is fixable long term, but it starts with getting out of the mess he created for himself as quickly as possible. Unless there is some hidden miracle in Iowa and New Hampshire, the DeSantis campaign should suspend its activities ASAP so Ron can embark on the difficult task of fence mending and image rebuilding.

In 2016, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump seemed as though they were on a path of acrimony that would last a lifetime, but somehow, they got past the vitriol of that bitter campaign. If DeSantis wants any chance of taking on Ramaswamy in 2028, he better be prepared to swallow his pride, endorse Trump, and try to get back into the good graces of MAGA.

It will be a humbling, heavy lift, and it’s more likely DeSantis will fade away after his term as governor ends in 2026, but hopefully, he will have learned from the experience and emerge stronger, smarter and more savvy.