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Trump and DeSantis Are Already Getting Nasty with Each Other

Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are starting to take off the gloves and go after each other. The race is still young and it will take a while before they crank it up to 10, but we are on the way there. It is clear the two men do not like each other, so the sparks will fly in due course.

Trump noticed DeSantis' dust-up with a reporter in Iowa last week and made a wisecrack about DeSantis' fear of the media. Trump is not afraid of the media, so he spent 20 minutes answering reporters' questions in Iowa. If DeSantis keeps blowing off reporters, Trump is going to label him a coward and make a point of talking to reporters a lot to make the contrast obvious. While it is our guess that journalists as a whole don't like Trump, they are going see that he talks to them and answers questions (even if the answers are often lies) and they value access over no access. After all, if you hear the candidate answer questions, you have a story. If the candidates flips the bird at you and huffs off, you don't have a story. That is sure to color their coverage.

In another stunt, a bus paid for by DeSantis' super PAC followed Trump around Iowa mocking him. DeSantis also ripped Trump for failing to get his conservative agenda enacted when he was president. He also hit on Trump for his use of third-grade nicknames for everyone.

Noteworthy is that Trump and DeSantis are going man-to-man already. That normally happens much later in the primary season. In contrast, all the other candidates are hiding in a corner somewhere or mildly chiding each other, not going after the big boys.

It is clear to us already that DeSantis is a phony. He doesn't actually give a hoot about Disney or all this woke stuff he talks about. It is just an act. He is going to be under the biggest microscope in the world for a year and some people are going to pick this up. In particular, the Republican base is divided. Trump's supporters are largely blue-collar workers who are angry at the "elites" for the perceived way they are treated. In contrast, DeSantis' supporters are better-educated "traditional" Republicans (i.e., the "elites" the base hates). In the past, DeSantis' supporters might have supported someone like George H.W. Bush. It is thus not surprising that DeSantis is getting his donations from rich (i.e., traditional) Republicans (see previous item). If the primary gets really nasty and Trump really goes after DeSantis in a dirty way, some of these traditional Republicans may decide that Trump is simply unacceptable, hold their noses, and vote for Biden, thus completing the ongoing process of dividing the electorate primarily along educational lines. If Karl Marx were around, he would say: "I can't define class warfare, but I know it when I see it."

If the fight between Trump and DeSantis heats up really fast, it could have consequences downstream. Rob Stutzman, a Republican consultant, said: "It's a 15-round boxing match, and when boxers come out pummeling each other from the beginning, they're not pacing themselves for the balance of the match." Will Trump and DeSantis be exhausted by next July if they keep this up? They could be. Also, DeSantis' supporters could come to really hate Trump by the end of a bitter battle and vice versa. In the end, some of them who don't switch teams might just decide to stay home in November 2024 rather than vote for someone they have come to hate. That could hurt Republican candidates for the Senate, House, and lower offices. Restablishing party unity could be a real problem in the fall of 2024. In contrast, Democrats are united and just watching the battle of the giants with glee. (V)

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