If you thought Donald Trump was going to wage a clean primary campaign based on the issues... well, it doesn't matter, because we know you weren't thinking that. It is going to be wrestling in a mixture of mud and superglue. Trump's oppo research team already has a large file of dirt on Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and is preparing to roll it out.
Before becoming governor of Florida, DeSantis was a teacher, a prosecutor, and a member of Congress. He has a moderately long record for the oppo team to examine and pluck selected items out of context. Just as one example, there is that already-infamous photo of DeSantis with some high school girls that suggests he was trying to ply them with alcohol. Couple that with Trump's assertion that as an assistant U.S. Attorney, DeSantis went easy on child pornographers, and it is already clear that Trump is going to accuse DeSantis of being a pedophile and worse.
Trump's team is already running focus groups to test different kinds of messages to see which ones work best. DeSantis will claim Trump is a liar and might even point out that The Washington Post logged over 30,000 lies Trump told in office (although that runs the risk of essentially admitting that what appears in the Post is true). The trouble (from DeSantis' point of view) is that if Trump and his allies hammer on this over and over and over and over and over, at some point, some people will start to say: "Where there is smoke, there is fire," even when all the smoke is totally manufactured.
Trump might also try to land a few blows above the belt. He has always said he won't monkey with Social Security. That view is popular with his base. As a congressman, DeSantis voted to raise the retirement age, which is not at all popular with blue-collar voters. Trump is likely going to push this point very hard.
Trump has an advantage now: DeSantis is not running yet. This gives Trump 2-3 months in which to tar DeSantis with an ad blitz without giving DeSantis a platform to fight back. Once DeSantis announces, he has plenty of deep-pocketed donors who will dump tens of millions of dollars into super PACs to fight back. It will be interesting to see how DeSantis fights back. Will he go after Trump personally and, for example, attack Trump's many marriages and affairs with porn stars? Or will he stick to: "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the least woke of them all?" The more personal and nastier Trump gets, the more DeSantis will be tempted to fight fire with fire. On the other hand, most (maybe all) the dirt about Trump is already out there, so it won't be newsworthy. Of course, DeSantis could just make some up. (V)