Today's Second-Tier Presidential Candidate News
Ron DeSantis is currently talking to the donor class, and he's making the argument that there are only three viable
presidential candidates for 2024, namely Joe Biden, Donald Trump and himself, and that only two of the three are electable,
namely Biden and himself. That's a pretty good assessment, from where we stand, of Biden, Trump, and the rest of the field.
We're not so sure it's a good assessment of DeSantis (see above for more). In any case, whether the Governor is an also-ran
or not, there are plenty of other candidates who are unquestionably also-rans at this point, and there was news about several
of them over the last few days:
- Tim Scott: Scott
his presidential campaign yesterday with a speech
falsehoods and misrepresentations. And he's got a lot of Republicans excited; Larry Ellison has
to give millions to Scott's PAC; Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD)
Scott will have his endorsement; the Trump campaign
that it's thrilled to have Scott in the race.
Scott's problem is that much of this enthusiasm has little to do with getting him elected president. Ellison's
support is probably for real; the Silicon Valley Republican is well known for tilting at political windmills.
After all, what's the harm in blowing $10-20 million on a lottery ticket when your net worth is $128 billion?
That's like a regular person sending seven bucks to Beto O'Rourke or Andrew Yang or Marianne Williamson—not
likely to do much good, but no great loss, either.
Thune, by contrast, is clever enough to know Scott has no chance of winning. His endorsement is the most politically
viable way of opposing Donald Trump without openly opposing Donald Trump. Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, etc.
are all villains in TrumpWorld, and backing them is basically poking Trump in the eye. Scott, by contrast, is not (yet)
radioactive with any faction of the GOP, and so backing him is less fraught.
As to the Trump campaign, the former president, or at least someone in his orbit, is savvy enough to know that the
only way he's not the 2024 nominee is if the "someone who is not Trump" vote coalesces behind one candidate (also
see above). The more little fish there are nipping at each other, and maybe claiming some small sliver of the
vote, the less chance there is for the anti-Trump vote to come together in time. As every reader of this site
knows, Republican primaries tend to be winner-takes-all, or winner-takes-nearly-all. So, as long as two not-Trump
candidates remain viable through Super Tuesday, Trump is a virtual shoo-in for the nomination.
- Chris Christie: The former New Jersey governor is
about to launch a campaign for president. Or, perhaps more precisely, president of New Hampshire. All of his time,
money, etc. will be invested in the Granite State. Exactly what his thinking is, we do not know. Option 1, and probably
more likely, is that Christie is deluding himself into thinking that he can win in New Hampshire, get some momentum from
that as the "Trump killer," and win the nomination as a dark horse. Option 2, and the one he'll admit to publicly, is
that his goal will be to show that Trump is vulnerable, in hopes of splintering the former president's support. Whatever
the plan is, Christie is probably just playing into Trump's hands by splitting up the "someone who is not Trump"
- Glenn Youngkin: Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) previously said he wouldn't run in 2024. Now,
he's apparently thinking
about getting in. His theory here is that Ron DeSantis is a paper tiger, and Trump will lose steam as his legal woes
mount. The Governor also thinks he can toe the line between "Trumper" and "never Trumper." We are skeptical. It's true
that Youngkin did that in his gubernatorial run, but he was then an unknown up against an unpopular Democrat. Good luck
trying to be all things to all Republicans once you've got an actual record AND you're under the presidential
microscope. Oh, and once again, the more "someone who is not Trump" candidates there are, the better it is for Trump,
who has at least 35-40% of the GOP electorate locked up.
- Tucker Carlson: And now we get to a would-be Republican presidential candidate who is NOT
deluding himself. There is a super PAC called the Draft Tucker PAC that exists for the purpose of persuading the former
Fox entertainer to run for president. Or, more accurately, there WAS a super PAC. Carlson's lawyers
the leaders of the PAC a cease and desist letter, insisting that Carlson isn't running in 2024, and demanding that the
PAC wind down its operations. The PAC has already done so. If you are surprised that Carlson did not want the ego boost
of having people begging him to run for president, don't be. His suspicion, probably correct, was that these folks were
less interested in President Carlson, and more interested in using Carlson's name to line their own pockets.
- Marianne Williamson: And, finally, a Democrat. Sort of. This weekend, the top two staffers for
Marianne Williamson's presidential campaign
There is much verbiage flying back and forth about exactly why they quit. Was Williamson too progressive? Not
progressive enough? Too tough to work for? Who knows. Our guess is that, while there were relatively few campaigns in
full swing, she was offering a paycheck. Now that the cycle is really heating up, working for someone who might actually
win (say, a U.S. Senate candidate, or even a U.S. House candidate) is rather more appealing, especially since someone
who is in until next November will be issuing more paychecks than someone who is going to drop out sometime between
March and June.
And there you have it. None of these folks is really worthy of an item all to themselves. But an omnibus item? Sure,
we can do that. (Z)
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