Maybe Ron DeSantis Can Run For President Without Trump Ever Noticing, But We Doubt It
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is popular with Republicans. He let COVID-19 run rampant in his state, and he's targeted marginalized groups for abuse, specifically signing legislation banning trans kids from competing in girls' and women's sports, vetoing $150,000 in state funds that would've provided counseling for survivors of the Pulse nightclub massacre, and eliminating $750,000 that the Florida legislature approved to create housing for homeless gay and trans youth. It's been a busy Pride month.
DeSantis picks his culture wars with apparent glee: He ordered the state flag lowered for dead bigot Rush Limbaugh, signed legislation that would fine private companies that ban political candidates from their platforms, and he's recently gone full McCarthy on colleges and universities.
But like most bullies, DeSantis is a coward. Conservatives are devouring the red meat he's serving up for them, but he's reportedly afraid his rising profile might upset the spoiled brat who's still the leader of the GOP, Donald Trump.
Iowa leaders begged [DeSantis] to visit. He just beat Trump in a key straw poll. And now the popular governor is getting close to overshadowing the former president in the 2024 presidential sweepstakes.
All of that could be dangerous for DeSantis' political health, as Trump continues to ponder a new bid for the White House and remains capable of kneecapping any Republican he sees as a threat.
DeSantis doesn't want to appear as if he's rising too quickly, and he's reportedly “very wary" of pissing off the mad MAGA king. However, last weekend, he thumped Trump 74-71 in the annual Western Conservative Summit's straw poll, which shocked the organizers. (The numbers aren't supposed to add up to 100, it's all weird, click here if you care about how this poll was conducted.) Trump won the same poll last year with 95 percent support, but he was still president and hadn't yet incited an attack against Congress.
A Republican consultant close to DeSantis said the governor "will take measures so that Trump won't get mad at him, but believe me, the more successful you are, with Trump, sometimes makes it worse ... It's a weird spot to be in for sure." Yes, it is weird when you're trying to make nice with a former president Republicans naively pretend isn't an unstable thug.
Like Hyman Roth in The Godfather Part II, Trump acts like DeSantis is his favored son, but he thinks he'll live forever and would prefer him out of the way. Trump tried to exert his dominance in late April when he told Fox News propagandist Maria Bartiromo that he'd consider DeSantis as his Replacement Pence if he ran again in 2024.
"He's a friend of mine. I endorsed Ron, and after I endorsed him, he took off like a rocket ship," Trump said. "A lot of people like that — you know, I'm just saying what I read and what you read — they love that ticket… certainly, Ron would be considered. He's a great guy."
Trump's friendship is conditional. It means he expects total, unwavering loyalty. Trump only ever discusses the 2024 election as though he's the presumptive GOP nominee. DeSantis is a Fox News fixture, but for now, he can claim he's just running for re-election. Meanwhile, Trump is scheduled to hold an Independence Day weekend rally in Sarasota, Florida, this Saturday. Trump has lots of time for rallies because he's not busy botching the response to a deadly pandemic.
The one-term loser held a hate rally in Ohio last weekend. It's absurd to assume Trump did this for anyone but himself, because he never does anything for anyone but himself. The cultists who showed up aren't ready to move on. They think he's the “true" president in exile.
🔥”It was the rally of a loser president. He’s the first president to lose an election in DECADES.” ~@GOP Rep.… https://t.co/XGw5AMovIK— Dena Grayson, MD, PhD (@Dena Grayson, MD, PhD) 1624837869.0
What is the Republican endgame? If they tolerate the Big Lie, then they should support Trump reclaiming the presidency in 2024. The fool doesn't believe he actually lost the 2020 election, even though he's profoundly unpopular. He's not going to suddenly accept reality and endorse a successor. Saul Anuzis, former chair of the Michigan Republican Party, claims it's still "early" in the 2024 election cycle. That's true, but Republicans are only delaying the inevitable reckoning.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."