May 22, 2024

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Ron DeSantis launched a losing campaign against Donald Trump

Ron DeSantis launched a losing campaign against Donald Trump

Anyone who wants to unseat the former president the day after his re-election in Florida has a steep and slippery slope to climb to get there.

Ron DeSantis, between the time I write these lines and the time you read them, chose bad weather to launch his campaign. He also chose a curious way to do it: a tepid interview with Elon Musk on Twitter, the social network that the controversial billionaire has given himself a high price for and that is visibly deteriorating.

Can DeSantis remove from his pew the object of the cult of personality that has become the Republican Party? I doubt it.

Inflated balloon

After his victory in November, which coincided with the defeat of several Trump-backed candidates, DeSantis appeared as the savior of Republicans.

Polls had him ahead of Trump, and big donors were scrambling to pave a golden path for him to the nomination. Trump proved his adversary’s seriousness by heaping insults on the “meatball Ron Desanctimonius” spot.

At one time, it was believed that the former president’s electoral and legal setbacks would dilute his support, but the attention he monopolized has had the opposite effect. The DeSantis balloon has deflated, and Trump’s lead now looks almost insurmountable.

Square the circle?

DeSantis continues to own assets after Trump. In addition to his winning record and deep coffers, he has become a darling of the right by championing more radical policies than Trump’s.

In short, he presents himself as the candidate of Trumpism without Trump’s personal baggage. He starts his line with great care not to criticize the former president on the same ideological ground.

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It won’t work. Not only does DeSantis project an image of weakness by allowing himself to be humiliated with impunity, he struggles to connect with voters outside his stronghold. With such a lack of charisma, can he really convince Trumpists to abandon their idol? Even if he wins, how can he sell his far-right views to centrist voters?

The ultimate cheeseburger

If this trend continues, even a flurry of lawsuits against Donald Trump won’t win him Republican support. He will fight even harder as he sees re-election as the only way to avoid criminal convictions.

Several other nominations have been and will be added if Trump goes off the rails and DeSantis is no longer considered the obvious choice. Good for Trump. As in 2016, the fragmentation of his opposition will make his victory easier.

You’d have to be naive to believe that Trump will accept defeat graciously. If Republicans show him the door to their house, he can set fire to his way out.

There are many Republicans who want Trump out, but dare not say so for fear of alienating his coreligionists. Many Republicans aren’t shy about saying Joe Biden won’t finish a second term, but there may be more who secretly wish Donald Trump would throw down his last cheeseburger soon.