Donald Trump loves an audience and his audience loves nothing more than a fight. As such, the former president, frustrated that DeSantis won’t answer his jibes, is growing increasingly creative with his hits on the Florida governor. This is strange and desperate, given that Trump leads all polls on the Republican side.
But aside from an afterthought or two, DeSantis hasn’t been motivated to take the bait and get down in the mud with Trump. Why? Because DeSantis knows that’s where Trump feels most at home.
To tempt DeSantis even further Trump has started launching attacks against him from the left, even from the hard left. He’s calling Florida a failed state, even though Florida helmed by the Navy vet is wildly successful and one of the most conservative states in the nation.
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However, that excellent record won’t stop Trump, as his populist, as opposed to conservative, ideology lets him attack anyone, anytime, from a lot of vantage points. Convenient, eh?
Fox last week, “Trump released the ‘The Real Ron DeSantis Playbook,’ which included several attacks on DeSantis, citing progressive sources such as the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Florida Policy Institute and MSNBC Host Joy Reid.” Donald Trump making common cause with Joy Reid. Well, well.
“The real DeSantis record is one of misery and despair,” Trump spox Steven Cheung said when the “Real DeSantis Playbook” was released last Friday. “ESPN wrote that Florida is the Worst State in The Nation To Die,” the Trump attack said. Ah, citing that bastion of Republican thought, ESPN, which is owned by Disney.
Trump thinks he can use the counterintuitive strategy to get support against DeSantis in Republican primaries. But perhaps this dog won’t hunt.
“These types of political attacks are bizarre and what voters expect from Democrat antagonists rather than fellow Republicans,” said Republican ace Colin Reed.
“The COVID rhetoric is especially confusing, since the Florida governor, along with other GOP chief executives, took on the slings and arrows for having the courage to lead their states out of lockdowns rather than follow the unelected medical so-called experts,” Reed said.
Doug Heye, former RNC communications chief, said “nothing Trump does has to make sense…See an opportunity to attack and take it is how he campaigned and governed. Since he’s not a conservative by any conventional definition, attacks can come left, right or center.”
Kevin Seifert, a former top Republican Hill staffer, commented, “No one should be shocked he has gone from praising DeSantis’ record to trashing it in the blink of an eye. Intellectual consistency has never been one of Trump’s defining characteristics, and he certainly has never let facts get in the way of attacking his political opponents.
“When Trump feels threatened, he lashes out with whatever attack lines are available, regardless of their accuracy or their source,” Seifert added. “When he wants to revise history to fit a narrative, he does so without hesitation.”
That may bode well for bringing out his base against a crowded primary field. In the general election historical revisionism may not work so well in his favor. Voters can be dumb. But a significant minority, enough to turn an election, are not that dumb.
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