After the not-so-great performance of Donald Trump's hand-picked candidates in last week's elections and Trump's not-so-good launch speech on Tuesday, GOP megadonor Stephen Schwarzman joined GOP megadonor Ken Griffin and said Donald Trump is history and it is time for new blood. All eyes are on Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) who believes that God has anointed him to be president. If God is on his side, is DeSantis now "inevitable" for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024?
Being inevitable is good work if you can get it, but it has its downsides. Just ask inevitable 2008 candidates Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani or inevitable 2016 candidate Jeb! There are many, many more if you go back in time. Getting a couple of big donors and The New York Post on board a year and half before the Republican National Convention doesn't mean the show is over and DeSantis can begin thinking about possible Supreme Court nominations. The Washington Post has a nice article about "inevitability." Executive summary: Stuff changes.
What the voters may be looking for in 2024 may be very different than what they are looking for now. Alex Conant, the one-time communications director for the one-time inevitable Marco Rubio said: "That candidate who looks perfect for the current moment might not be what they want later." Right now, crime and inflation are top issues, but what if Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's magic works and next year unemployment is the big issue and it is raging in Florida? What if the war in Ukraine is still on and spreading to Poland and elsewhere and foreign policy is on top of the agenda?
The best comparison is with Jeb! He was a popular governor of Florida, and son and brother of presidents, to boot. He was a proven job creator and had all the big donors on his team. He was inevitable until he was roadkill.
DeSantis has had a lot of success in getting votes in Florida, no doubt about that. But he has never taken his show on the road. How will "Don't say gay" play in Michigan? How will attacking one of the country's best known and loved corporations (Disney) play in Pennsylvania?
One thing DeSantis has not yet had to deal with is the full fury of Donald Trump aimed directly at him. Wanna talk about "inevitable"? That is inevitable. Trump claims to have dirt on DeSantis. Trump's claims don't usually mean much, but it is a safe bet that the sane people on Trump's team have hired the best oppo researchers who are willing to work for Trump and paid them in advance. Maybe there is one spot on DeSantis record, like one word he shouldn't have used—"macaca" for instance. Or one photo of him in college in blackface or something else that he thought was innocuous at the time and Trump makes it the centerpiece of his campaign.
Maybe DeSantis has lived a charmed life and never did anything wrong ever. But, even if that is so, now he is under the biggest microscope in the world, something he is not used to. In 1988, then-boy-wonder Sen. Gary Hart was "inevitable" until rumors of an extra-marital affair started swirling. Hart dared reporters to follow him to see how boring he really was. Dumb move. When someone took a photo of him with a young woman named Donna Rice on his lap on an 83-ft yacht named Monkey Business, it was all over for him. Would DeSantis do something that stupid? Probably not, but now that everything he says and does will be magnified 1000x, he could make some small mistake that Trump can exploit to the hilt. DeSantis is going to have to be very, very careful. (V)