Whether three additional Republicans run for President against President Donald J. Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis or 300, everyone knows the race is likely between the two alpha males — Trump and DeSantis.
This isn’t to say others shouldn’t make a run at the White House if they feel called to do so, it’s just saying that it would take a minor miracle for someone not named Trump or DeSantis to be the Republican nominee in 2024.
I wanted to share my thoughts on the race with readers since about a dozen of you have asked since Friday. Do not take this as an endorsement of either candidate. This is purely my own thoughts and observations as an “analyst.”
First things first, Team DeSantis needs to recognize where Trump is most vulnerable with conservatives. And it’s relatively obvious — the COVID shots that Trump championed. The tricky part for DeSantis is being critical of Trump in such a way that he doesn’t come across as a “conspiracy theorist” and lose some of the “moderate” support he will pick up simply by not being named Trump.
Prior to Friday, I had never seen DeSantis in person. The one thing people told me is that he struggles in your typical, Iowa Caucus, one-on-one sort of campaign opportunities. Friday obviously wasn’t that with more than 800 people packed into the venue, but if I’m being honest, DeSantis didn’t match Trump’s delivery on the stage.
Note that I’m not saying that is good, bad or indifferent. I’m simply saying he wasn’t as engaging or entertaining as Trump. For some people, that’s great. For others, it’s horrible.
DeSantis has plenty of policy accomplishments to tout, and he did, but the energy remained about the same throughout. He did a good job of saving his best for last on Friday, closing with his accomplishments on addressing indoctrination inside Florida schools. That drew the most applause by far and allowed him to end on a high note.
But DeSantis didn’t really “humanize” himself until sharing the stage with Gov. Kim Reynolds. I felt like his 20-minute stump speech was just right in terms of length. It felt as though that was it. And he needed the more conversational, Q&A with Reynolds to help reveal more of himself as a person.
This is obviously something Trump typically doesn’t do. He finds a way to engage and converse with the crowd — no matter how big or small.
Again, for some people, they’ll like and prefer this style over Trump’s. They are more into policy and don’t need to be entertained. The question is will it appeal to enough people to get DeSantis to a point where he can compete with Trump?
In addition to his COVID shot push, Trump’s record on LGBTQ issues leaves much to be desired. Celebrating the passage of the DisRespect for Marriage Act at Mar-a-Lago is a big red flag for conservatives — or at least it should be.
And Trump did that. Will DeSantis be willing to draw that distinction in a potential primary? If he does, he could siphon a large chunk of the Christian conservative vote from Trump.
Electability will also be a big point of discussion for DeSantis supporters. A push poll sent out this weekend reminded voters that DeSantis “is a winner who has never lost an election.”
It went on to say:
“A younger candidate like DeSantis is the best chance to beat an 81-year-old Biden in the 2024 presidential election.”
There are lots and lots of Republicans who want us to believe Trump is “unelectable.” This is just a personal, gut instinct that I have…
I don’t buy that. I don’t buy that at all. And here’s why.
Are there people who will refuse to vote for Trump? Yes. But are there people who will only vote for Trump? Yes.
If Trump were truly unelectable, why would the media, Democrats and RINO Republicans be desperately trying to keep him from running?
Let’s look at everything they’ve thrown at Trump the last six years. Everything. All of it.
Knowing how much they’ve thrown at him and knowing he’s still the odds-on favorite to be the GOP nominee tells me he has a solid base of support that, if it hasn’t yet, is not going to go anywhere.
There are a lot of voters who would walk across jagged pieces of glass barefoot to go vote for Trump.
Here’s another thing about Trump’s “electability.” And you can call me a conspiracy theorist or a kook, I really don’t care because I will go to my grave believing this — Trump didn’t lose the 2020 election.
If you don’t want to call that a “stolen” election or a “rigged” election, perhaps you’d be willing to acknowledge in some states it was an illegal election. And we should never accept the results of an illegal election.
And I’m sorry, but reflecting on the 2020 campaign, and examining the results of the down-ballot races in 2020 as well as historical trends in certain states and certain bellwether counties, in addition to what our eyes told us in terms of attendees at Trump rallies and attendees (or a lack thereof) at Biden rallies, I’ll never believe 81 million individuals showed up to vote for Biden.
I’m not going to rehash all the reasons why, though I really want to. I’m simply going to say that if Trump were truly as unelectable as they tell us he is, the enemies of the political right would be trying to make sure he’s the GOP nominee. Instead, they are working to ensure he isn’t.
Speaking of, consider this…pretty much every person I wouldn’t want to align with is anti-Trump. This isn’t to say ALL anti-Trump or pro-DeSantis people are people I don’t want to align with. Please don’t confuse or conflate those two things. But Mitt Romney isn’t going to get on board with Trump. Mitch McConnell isn’t going to get on board with Trump. Adam Kinzinger. Liz Cheney. Most mainstream media pundits.
Again, this isn’t to suggest good, solid, conservatives can’t align with DeSantis or stand against Trump for good reason. But it is pretty telling that I don’t expect many “establishment” or RINO Republicans to back Trump.
Finally, we have to really look at Jan. 6 for what I believe it was — a coordinated effort by our government to make it so Trump can’t seek re-election. Again, call me a kook. Call me a “conspiracy theorist.” Call me whatever you want.
But I was in D.C. that day. I was at the Ellipse that day. I was at the Capitol that day. It wasn’t what the media, Democrats, establishment Republicans and others have told you it was.
And the footage released by Tucker Carlson only confirms that.
I believe the Jan. 6 debacle was intended to be pinned on Trump so that Trump couldn’t seek election ever again because the political machine knows it can’t cheat at the same level it had to in order to win in 2020.
And here’s one final point…the way that Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney attacked Tucker Carlson for releasing that footage tells me they’re just as focused on making sure Trump isn’t the nominee as Chuck Schumer and the Democrats are.
It seems Trump poses such a threat to those entrenched in the system that they will do anything and everything they can to ensure he isn’t President again.
Which might suggest he is exactly who needs to be President again.
Oh, and remember, Trump can be credited with appointing the justices needed for the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade.
Now, I’ve probably alienated and upset everyone. Some people probably think I’m pro-DeSantis. Some people probably think I’m pro-Trump. Others probably think I’m anti-DeSantis and others probably think I’m anti-Trump.
If that’s the case, then I guess I did my job. We’re nowhere near needing to know who we should support for the Republican nomination in 2024. We have plenty of time to figure it out.
Both DeSantis and Trump have their positives. Both have their negatives. It is fair to say DeSantis doesn’t carry the same baggage Trump does, but it’s also fair to acknowledge DeSantis has not been put under the microscope like Trump has for the last six years or so.
And while we may think Trump is “unelectable” to many people, we’d be foolish to think the media will not paint DeSantis in the same light to those same people day after day, week after week, month after month if he becomes the nominee.
Iowa conservatives have a lot to sort through between now and caucus night. And I have every expectation that we will and, in the end, we’ll get it right.
***If you feel strongly about Trump, DeSantis or some other Republican candidate, feel free to submit a letter to the editor in support of your candidate to [email protected] If you have thoughts about the upcoming 2024 race, do the same!***