by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Dan McLaughlin of National Review Online assesses former President Donald Trump’s strategy of trashing a potential primary opponent. Trump appears to be focusing more of his attention on Florida’s governor than on the man who beat him in 2020.
It is hard not to see a fear of Ron DeSantis animating everything Donald Trump does these days. Combine that with Trump’s general modus operandi of crying foul in advance at anything he expects to go against him while declaring victory before all the votes are cast, and you get what is happening right now. First, we had Trump’s preposterous effort to deride Republican governance in Florida and Trump intimidating people such as Steve Daines (chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee) into endorsing him while touting himself as the bête noire of “the Establishment.”
Now, Trump is musing about pulling out of the debates on the theory that his lead is “insurmountable” nine months before the first vote is cast.
Charles Gasparino of Fox Business reports that Trump “plans to go to Tallahassee” to whip votes against the bill to amend Florida’s “resign to run law.” Ron DeSantis needs the law changed in order to declare a presidential candidacy without having to quit his job as governor. Trump may picture himself repeating the Barack Obama playbook of winning elections by getting his opponents barred from the ballot, but personally going to Tallahassee would also be a risk — if Trump picks that fight and loses, he will come out looking smaller.
For DeSantis, this is all a reminder that there is no limit to how much scorched earth Trump is willing to create against fellow Republicans in order to secure the nomination. For Florida Republican legislators, however, they should consider the downsides of crossing DeSantis if the expected outcome is to leave him as Florida governor.