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What, Exactly, Is DeSantis' Plan?

As long as we are speculating way too far in advance about the 2024 Republican field, we are left to wonder exactly what Ron DeSantis' grand plan is when it comes to dealing with what we might call the "Trump problem."

As we noted yesterday, Donald Trump returned to holding rallies this weekend, and he took the occasion to say many and varied nasty things about DeSantis. The Governor, who is certainly willing to crawl into most gutters, is not willing to crawl into that one, and so has not responded to the attacks.

DeSantis' thinking here is very clear. He knows full well that while much of the Republican establishment is looking to move on from Trump, a large segment of the base remains loyal to the former president. And that loyalty is often akin to cultishness. So, if DeSantis attacks the Dear Leader, then it could alienate many of the voters that the Governor will need if he's going to be elected president. And many devoted Trump voters, as you might have noticed, do not forgive or forget.

On the other hand, one of the main reasons that the MAGA Republicans love Trump is that he's unfiltered and he says whatever is on his mind. If DeSantis acts like the politician that he is, and chooses his words and his battles carefully, it's not likely to play well with the MAGA voters. That will not only make the Governor look weak and/or unmasculine, it will also make it seem like he's not really a "straight shooter" who "tells it like it is." Trumpy Republicans are very sensitive to, and very disdainful of, politicians behaving like politicians.

So, DeSantis can't afford to attack Trump, but he can't afford to not attack Trump. Maybe. If Trump is indicted, and has to drop out as a result, then that would, somewhat ironically, give the Governor a Get out of Jail Free card. Trump would be eliminated without DeSantis ever having opened fire. But that presupposes not only that Trump actually is indicted, but also that being indicted causes him to drop out, and that DeSantis can afford to take whatever damage is done to him while he bides his time. Neither of those latter two things are a certainty.

That said, there was a bit of good news for DeSantis/bad news for Trump on Monday. It was reported by CNN that two of the people who searched Mar-a-Lago (and other locations) for classified documents have now testified before a Washington, DC, grand jury. Special Counsel Jack Smith is also trying to lay hands on at least one laptop computer owned by a Mar-a-Lago staff member, trying to piece together an electronic paper trail. Smith does not talk to reporters, and has no duty to explain himself to anyone but the court, but these things are clearly signs of an investigation that is in full swing and is not letting up. (Z)

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