How Trump Will Deal with DeSantis
Axios got a
about Donald Trump's campaign plans.
Trump thinks that his only opponent with any staying power is Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL).
The others will fall by the wayside without his having to take them down. His approach to Ron DeSanctimonious, as Trump calls him,
(Meatball Ron is apparently out), will have five parts, as follows.
- Social Security: Trump understands that his working-class base does not want for
Social Security (and Medicare) to be scaled back or for the retirement age raised. This separates him from nearly the
entire Republican establishment, which wants to gut the programs in order to do the bidding of big donors (who either
don't like paying FICA taxes, or who don't want to get stuck with the bill when the Social Security trust fund runs
dry). Trump doesn't give a hoot what the big donors want. When he was a congressman, DeSantis voted with the
establishment to actively change the programs, including raising the age of eligibility. DeSantis can hop up and down
and yell all he wants now that he won't change the programs, but Trump will hit back with "When he had the actual power
in Congress to try to gut the programs, that's what he did. He's lying now."
- Disloyalty: Trump maintains that without his help, DeSantis would still be an unknown
congressman. Trump will pound him for being an ingrate and mounting a challenge when Trump did so much to make him
governor. Trump will also focus on how DeSantis fails the likability test badly. He won't call it the "beer test"
because Trump himself does not drink alcohol, so no one could have a beer with him. He could substitute the "Big Mac
test" though. That would actually be a twofer since it covers likability but is also a dig at DeSantis being an elite on
account of degrees from Yale and Harvard Law School. In contrast, Trump has a degree from only one Ivy League school
- Lackey for Paul Ryan: When DeSantis was a junior congressman, he took his marching orders
from then-Speaker Paul Ryan. Trump hates Ryan and has said Fox News should fire him from its board. Ryan is the kind of
establishment Republican Trump's base hates, and so Trump will do his best to convince the voters that DeSantis was (and
is) Ryan's lackey.
- COVID-19: Although DeSantis resisted mask mandates, Trump is going to attack him for
following the science at least a little early on in the pandemic. What the base believes is that Joe in the diner knows
more about epidemics than Anthony Fauci, who is an M.D. and who has studied them for 50 years. Trump will go after
DeSantis for not respecting Joe in the diner enough on health issues.
- Ukraine: DeSantis has been trying to avoid taking a stand on the war in Ukraine. Trump's
position is simple: Russia good, Ukraine bad. He is going to attack DeSantis over and over on this. However, this is an
area where that could backfire. DeSantis could say: "Unlike you, I hate godless Communism and don't want it spreading."
He could attack Russia because it frowns on freedom of religion. That might resonate with the evangelicals.
So far, DeSantis is not taking the bait and not going after Trump. When the time comes, he can try to parry these
attacks but more likely will go on the offense, rather than on the defense (see below). (V)
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