The L Word.
Ron DeSantis says that Donald Trump is a loser and that the time has come for Republican primary voters and caucus attenders to leave him behind and get on with the task of winning elections. This is an odd way to address Trump voters, to put it mildly. You’re-a-loser-if-you-keep-voting-for-that-loser is not a winning message.
Polls reflect this. For a time after the 2022 mid-term elections, it appeared that DeSantis would emerge as the Savior, the one who could defeat Trump while holding “the base.” Those hopes were quickly dashed by Trump’s announcement of candidacy, and the ineptitude of the DeSantis political operation’s response. “Trump is still our guy” was the base’s verdict. “DeSantis is not ready for prime time” was the press’s verdict. The latter judgement was not unfair.
In the wake of DeSantis’s cliff-dive in national and key state polls, the DeSantis campaign has doubled down on “Loser Don” and introduced the new-and-improved Retail Ron, who actually shakes hands, flips burgers and smiles at voters. In addition, a pro-DeSantis super PAC called Never Back Down, shared with reporters from The New York Times its plans for a super-duper high-tech/low-tech “ground game” capable of reaching every possible GOP caucus attender in Iowa “five times” and every New Hampshire primary voter “four times.” It could build this organizational behemoth, the Never Back Downers said, because it had raised (and continues to raise) so much money from so many rich people there was no counting it all.
All of this bluster and mega-bucks triumphalism feels a lot like the bluster and triumphalism of the John Connally for president campaign in 1979. Mr. Connally was, as the song goes, a “long tall Texan,” ready to vanquish the aging Reagan, who the press portrayed as unelectable and well past his sell-by date. Like DeSantis, Connally had boatloads of money, supposedly strong political support in the Sunbelt and a (manufactured) aura of inevitability. His time had come. Reagan’s best days were behind him. All the voters needed to do was sign off.
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