George H.W. Bush ran for president on the slogan of "A kinder, gentler nation." His son ran on "Compassionate conservatism." These are about as relevant to modern Republicans as "Keep Cool and Keep Coolidge" or "I like Ike." For better or worse, Donald Trump changed the Republican Party in 2016 with "Lock her up" and his "American carnage" speech at his 2017 inauguration. Ross Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University, said Republican primary voters are hungering for revenge after 2 years of Joe Biden. They don't want a positive message of the type Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is offering. They don't want to unify the country and move forward. They want to punish their enemies and move backward. Trump understands that. The other candidates do not.
Ron DeSantis, for example, is going all-out to be anti-woke. He wants lots of laws banning anything vaguely progressive. While conservatives like that, the real red meat these days is about retribution, making the libs suffer. Pardoning all the people who tried to pull off a coup on Jan. 6, 2021 does that. Banning trans girls from playing girls field hockey in high school doesn't do that. Policy is nice, too, but it is an afterthought. It is all about personality for Republican voters. They feel humiliated by the "elite" people who look down on them and they want to show the elite who's boss by humiliating them. New laws don't do that. That Trump is their messenger is downright weird since he is billionaire real estate magnate from New York City, not a self-made man who grew up in poverty (e.g., Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC). (V)