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The Trump-DeSantis Primary Fight Begins

Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2023
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by Outside Contributor
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This week, as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg considered indicting former President Donald Trump on a flimsy felony charge over a seven-year-old hush-money payment to former porn star Stormy Daniels, Trump placed his focus on the man he perceives as the truest threat to his political dominance: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Trump backers demanded that DeSantis sound off on the looming indictment; after a few days, DeSantis did, but not in ways that pleased Trump’s base. “I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair,” DeSantis said. “But what I can speak to is if you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction and he chooses to go back many, many years ago to try to use something about porn star hush money payments, that’s an example of pursuing a political agenda.”

DeSantis’ harsh words for Bragg were insufficient, according to Trump, because he mentioned the rationale for Trump’s legal difficulties: his unfortunate penchant for sexual profligacy. This prompted Trump to take to Truth Social to accuse DeSantis of grooming underage girls and/or boys: “Ron DeSanctimonious will probably find out about FALSE ACCUSATIONS & FAKE STORIES sometime in the future, as he gets older, wiser, and better known, when he’s unfairly and illegally attacked by a woman, even classmates that are ‘underage’ (or possibly a man!).”

This was only the beginning. On Tuesday evening, excerpts broke from a DeSantis interview with Piers Morgan, in which DeSantis criticized Trump’s choices as president. “(T)he way we run the government I think is no daily drama, focus on the big picture and put points on the board and I think that’s something that’s very important,” DeSantis said. He added that he “would have fired” Dr. Anthony Fauci, contra Trump, who made Fauci into the face of the federal government’s pandemic response.

So, the fight is on.

Right now, the advantage lies with Trump. He’s the center of gravity for all of politics. DeSantis led Trump 39% to 26% in the Monmouth poll in December 2022 — shortly after Trump’s candidates in Senate races lost across the board, while DeSantis cleaned up in Florida — but now trails Trump by a margin of 27% to 41% in the same poll.

Dealing with Trump will be difficult for any Republican candidate, for two specific reasons. First, many Republican voters have bought into the myth that Trump is not subject to political gravity: In the aftermath of the 2012 Obama reelection, widespread political sentiment held that Democrats would never lose another presidential election, and yet Trump somehow beat Hillary Clinton while saying anything and everything on his mind. Many Republicans still think of Trump as a winner, even after his losses in the 2018 midterm election, 2020 presidential election, 2021 Georgia Senate races and 2022 midterms. When they don’t, he drops in the polls, as in December 2022.

Second, Republicans rally to Trump whenever he is attacked by the Left. That’s right and proper when it comes to unjust prosecutions by rogue DAs. But many Republican voters have generalized to the extent that Trump is now considered off-limits to attack even by (SET ITAL) other Republicans, (END ITAL) since the Left (SET ITAL) might (END ITAL) use such attacks as a rationale to attack Trump, too. This is a nearly impossible needle to thread. How do you critique Trump without the base feeling that your attacks are helping the Left? Meanwhile, Trump has been granted the soft bigotry of low expectations by many voters: He can say literally anything about other candidates, and no one blinks an eye. It’s Marquess of Queensberry rules for Trump’s opponents, WWE folding-chair-to-the-back-of-the-head smackdowns for Trump himself.

So, what can DeSantis do? The answer: It’s not really up to DeSantis. It’s up to Republican voters. It will be DeSantis’ job to remind Republican voters that Trump has won precisely one election in the last seven years; it will be the job of Republican voters to acknowledge that reality. It will be DeSantis’ job to point out that Trump didn’t clean out the executive branch and gave Fauci power; it will be the job of Republican voters to acknowledge that such criticisms aren’t “unfair attacks.” It will be DeSantis’ job to remind voters of his record; it will be the job of Republican voters to look to record rather than tweetstorms for policy victory.

Will Republican voters use their heads rather than their hearts? We’ll find out soon enough.

Ben Shapiro, 39, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show,” and co-founder of Daily Wire+. He is a three-time New York Times bestselling author; his latest book is “The Authoritarian Moment: How The Left Weaponized America’s Institutions Against Dissent.” To find out more about Ben Shapiro and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website.

COPYRIGHT 2023 CREATORS.COM

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John
John
1 year ago

Trump and DeSantis are truly evil people.

Trump is favored in the primary because the far right has an extreme devotion to him. He said he could shoot somebody on 5th Avenue and get away with it. DeSantis is beloved by the far right in Florida but the far right does not have quite the level of devotion to him.

Biden is doing a good job as president but does not communicate it well so there’s a good chance Trump or possibly DeSantis becomes president.

Trump’s main goal as president would be revenge. He would also push far right policies.
DeSantis would push far right policies as hard as he can. He would also be out for revenge.
Biden would continue as he has, but likely get little done because both houses of congress will probably be republican.

Nick
Nick
1 year ago

I’m curious about their respective tax policies. Which of them will have the courage to say that the working class is no longer the bedrock of our economy, and that the vast majority of new wealth is being created in short bursts through IPOs and leveraged buyouts? Given this fact pattern, it seems obvious that the tax burden should be shifted downstream to encourage workers to earn more or leave the workforce entirely to build a startup.

Meanwhile capital gains and inheritance taxes need to be cut to zero or below. Give people something to aspire to so they stop being reliant on the corporate welfare of factory and office jobs.

Any GOP candidate who says anything about protecting or supporting “working families” isn’t serious. A new mindset is needed. The future of capitalism is all about short-term wealth generation that can then be invested and passed down to the next generation. Once virtually all the country’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few thousand families, lawmaking and governance will be much easier and more efficient.

paul
paul
1 year ago

No Trump and I vote libertarian.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
1 year ago

Dont need Civil War here
No name calling save to leftists, RINOs & RNC Estd
Unite on Policies
Or lose 2024

Ann S
Ann S
1 year ago

Trump should stop attacking any rep opponent. The dems can do that very well all by themselves.
It just shows his little boy side and it is lowering his image to a street thug.
Every person running for president is attacked for something in their makeup but we should judge them on their platform. Not personalities.
Plus the process takes to long what with candidates announcing months or even years ahead of the election. 3 months campaigning no more. That eliminates buying candidates by the likes of Soros. And maybe better candidates might come forward. If 80 billion can be donated to BLM how much do you think is donated, so called, to the dems.

Jerry
Jerry
1 year ago

It will be up to Trump to remind voters that he actually won the last election before it was stolen from him. Also all republicans should heed president Reagan’s advice, “Thou shall not speak evil of another republican”.

Chuck
Chuck
1 year ago

I voted for DeSantis and greatly respected him and all that he’s done here in Florida until I started doing more research into his supporters and contributors. Now I just don’t trust him. And the argument that RINOs are just trying to cause friction between MAGA supporters is foolish. If it were true, DeSantis would be refusing support and contributions from the RINOs and neocons like Murdoch and Ryan. One of the big deal breakers for me is…why is he “quietly” trying to have the Florida legislature change the law to allow him to run without resigning? Because he wants to have his cake and eat it, too. If they change the law, he won’t need to resign to run for POTUS. Then if he doesn’t win the election, he gets to stay in his position as governor. He wouldn’t be governor now if President Trump hadn’t endorsed him in 2018. It appears he’s just another RINO WEF hack. Do your own research. Then you may want to read the story of the Trojan Horse if you want to understand what I mean. FJB! TRUMP2024!

Honey
Honey
1 year ago

This is not a good column. I am not happy with Shapiro here.
Trump had so many excellent accomplishments in his four years all for the good of the American people and free nations everywhere. If Trump wins in 2024, he will continue his great number of good achievements, There is a list of the many things he got done. It is astonishing in its length and breadth. Only Reagan stands in the same air as Trump. And all thatTrump accomplished was in the face of a media that was his enemy, an education system that taught lies and America hatred and therefore Trump hatred, fake impeachments and you know the rest.

The reason Trump is loved by so many is he lowered taxes and regulations bringing jobs back to America and small businesses grew immensely. We had the highest employment numbers of people of all groups in good high paying jobs.

He also managed our enemies brilliantly.

I love Ron De Santis. But he is for 2028. Trump is for 2024. My portfolio grew, I kid you not, 100 percent one year under Trump. That never happened before. I was happy in Trump’s America and felt safe, except for in cities run by radical democrats.

It is a distortion of Trump’s record to say anything except that America was better off under Trump than under any president in my lifetime except Reagan. I am 85 years old.

Our side has many people in it with weak memories. The only people who feel as I do are the real Trump voters who know the truth and remember what it was like in Trump’s America.

If Covid had not struck, we would have remembered all of that better.

lwbuchholz
lwbuchholz
1 year ago

Sometimes I think our politicians haven’t made it past child hood. The bickering and finger pointing is idiotic.

Pete from St Pete
Pete from St Pete
1 year ago

Trump better be careful or his street fighting mentality will turn off more voters than it already has.
Insulting the best governor Florida has ever had with cheap shots will turn many independents against him, just like it did during the midterms. He has a great following among conservatives but also has a big following among moderate Democrats and independents who hate him in spite of his laudable accomplishment when he was President.

Patriot Will
Patriot Will
1 year ago

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if President Trump and Governor DeSantis could set aside their differences and become a team, for the good of the country. I believe both of these men are very capable patriots with big egos. The Republican Party could figure out which arrangement would be the biggest threat to the feckless Marxist Democrats. Is Trump-DeSantis more electable or is DeSantis-Trump more electable. For the good of this country and the welfare of the American people both men should swallow their pride. There is a good chance that their partnership with each other could literally blow the corrupt power structure of the Marxist Democrats into shambles.

PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

So far, aside from President Trump, who laid out a broad range of future policies, and to a much smaller degree Pompeo touched on some foreign policy focus, none of the other declared or undeclared GOP candidates to date have really offered up anything substantial in the way of what they would do in terms of:

1) the economy and undoing the damage inflected on it over the last 2 years by Biden and the Democrats (inflation, energy independence, the forced march towards Climate Change policies that will further slow down an already weaken economy, etc.)

2) restoring the integrity of the borders of the United States and how to remove what will be an additional 10 new illegals dispersed into this country under Biden’s first 4 years in office.

3) addressing the China, Russia, Iran and North Korean threats that Biden has not only mishandled, but allowed to get substantially worse.

4) repairing the perception of the United States around the world after 4 years of Biden turning us into a global joke that no one wants to be aligned with.

5) the undoing of the weaponization of the DOJ, FBI and the intelligence services against the American people.

6) how to address the massive deterioration of our public education system into what is essentially now mostly a leftist propaganda indoctrination system.

Those are just some of the major topics each GOP candidate has to provide some detailed level of answers for before we can seriously say the primary fight has begun. The softball interview of DeSantis by Piers Morgan on FOX was hardly the sort of in-depth interview of the candidate Ron DeSantis himself. Who has yet to even officially declare himself as running, on any of the main issues facing this nation. Mostly the interview was centered on Trump and how, in hindsight with the benefit of current knowledge of how Dr. Fauci has been exposed as lying to not only Trump and other members of the Trump administration but also the American people all through the Covid pandemic, DeSantis might have handled some things differently. Hardly the sort of probing interview one would expect to see on where the candidate himself stands on a broad array of issues.

Bottom line: At some point in the very near future, all the GOP candidates, including DeSantis who will actually have to formally declare he is running, are going to have to lay out their strategies for cleaning up the mess that Biden will have left behind by the time 2024 rolls around. Not simply criticize Trump like Monday morning armchair quarterbacks. Then it will be up to the American people to hopefully make an intelligent decision based on the facts, rather than what they think their candidate “might do” if elected. The fate of the country is far too important to rely on idle speculation and hope of what you hope or think your desired candidate “might do”.

WRS
WRS
1 year ago



WRS
WRS
1 year ago

I see lot of Trump supporters posting here. I voted for Trump twice but will not vote for him again.His policies were great but the man is not presidential material. His volcanic temper, useless tweets and erratic put-downs of other politicians is not acceptable. I don’t think Trump will win in the primaries. If he doesn’t look for him to run on a third party ticket. In the past he refused to say he would not support any other Republican nominated. Therefore, if he doesn’t win the presidential nomination to run look for him to run on a third party platform. His vengeful and bullying nature will compel him to do so.That would be a disaster for Republicans.

I had several candidates that I think would be competitive in mind. DeSantis was one. However, his disturbing comments regarding Ukraine put him near the bottom of my list, right above Trump. If trump is on the ticket I’ll become a Libertarian

Louis Thornton
Louis Thornton
1 year ago

I voted for Trump in the 2016 and 2020 primary and general election. I also made a donation to his campaign. However, his personal attacks on DeSantis are moving my support to the Florida Governor!
Trump needs to quit the attacks on DeSantis and focus on Biden!

bruce
bruce
1 year ago

I think focusing on what Trump didn’t (couldn’t) do during his Presidency is bad logic. Everything he did was a fight uphill where he was opposed every day on every thing he tried to do. It was amazing he did as well as he did giving that he stood absolutely alone. That said, he and DeSantis need to keep it clean and leave the mudslinging to the democrats until after the primaries; they’re the ones that really need stopping.

teresa Ann d'alessandro
teresa Ann d'alessandro
1 year ago

it’s a shame bc there doesn’t have to be a riff between the two. actually Trump should continue his 2nd term bc it was taken away from him. he has dealth with the world whereas desantis dealth with a state. desantis is younger and can learn more from trump then take the spot lite in 2028

Steve
Steve
1 year ago

That’s what made America , competition. Will be between two grown men keep it clean and focused on how well America is doing and the world at this time ! Lord knows you have enough sound bites and video bloopers to win the next two elections or maybe America wants that to have your children not even know their sex your challenger hiding in the basement , half of America not to have free speech take your pick America .

Moses
Moses
1 year ago

Since not much has been done to secure fair and free elections it’s really a moot issue which person the republicans end up with in the top spot. My pick would be Trump, hoping he has learned to keep his comments to a civil level. Trump will need the house and senate for all 4 years to try to get us back on track. If we survive the 4 years of Biden it will take the 4 years to right the ship. I don’t think any other republican can come close to accomplishing what Trump can. Biden supposedly got 15 million more votes than Obama did his second term. The only reason Trump won in 2016 is because the democrats under estimated how many votes Trump would get. They couldn’t postpone the outcome and print more ballots because COVD had not been invented yet. If you keep up with world events, you realize that Biden has ruined the U.S.

SES
SES
1 year ago

This man talks like DeSantis is NEW to US Congress. He was the FL 6th congressional district representative to the US House 2013-2018. What exactly did he do there then that makes him so valuable he should hold the US Presidency now? Actions speak louder than words. Washington is already over flowing with smooth talkers working at a steady pace, trashing the voters opinions and the country.

Granny26
Granny26
1 year ago

I would like to see Trump win with DiSantis as VP then after that term, DiSantis elected as president for the next 8 years.

Randall L. Beatty
Randall L. Beatty
1 year ago

I really wish they would get together to run together they would make a great team instead of fighting they could win the White House for the people of this country and get the Dems out that means Biden and his VP. President Trump and DeSantis could win with no problem hope they can sit down together and run together to save this country.

Linda Georgia
Linda Georgia
1 year ago

Don’t fight, be friends. DeSantis can run for president in 2028. Run together this time.

Eric
Eric
1 year ago

When did Desantis declare he was running? Did I miss something?

Rick
Rick
1 year ago

Allowing Trump to run will only ensure four more years of Biden. Trump cannot win in the
general election. Independents and conservative Dems who would vote for DeSantis will
not vote for Trump. Trump needs to move on, he was a Apprentice president who got fired.

CB
CB
1 year ago

Bragg is an incompetent baboon. Trump needs to stay home and DeSantis needs to stay as our governor.

NewDay
NewDay
1 year ago

Trump already has a nickname picked out for Ron DeSantis. I like Trump and would vote for him again but he should have learned his lesson by now, stick to debating policies and not calling people debasing names. It hurts his image with a lot of voters and gives the biased media ammuntion to use against him.

PFArizona
PFArizona
1 year ago

Why isn’t anybody talking about Mike Pompeo as the Republican candidate for President! He is the perfect person to be our next President to clean up the Swamp and remind Russia, China, Iran and North Korea who the real super power is: THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Mr. Pompeo has the education (first in his class at West Point), Military background, foreign intelligence as past CIA director, International relations experience, and guts to Get America back to its exceptional greatness from the disaster of the Biden administration!
I CHOSE MIKE!

Bob
Bob
1 year ago

Keep these facts in mind:

DeSantis has not yet declared. When he goes full-on the numbers will likely flip.

Re Monmouth poll: Monmouth is a fourth tear college. Surfing is the most popular major. They teach their students, “You want fries with that?”, as a career mantra. Spocoli got his PhD there. Is that the organization to believe?

Jeff Savlov
Jeff Savlov
1 year ago

If Trump really cared about this country, he would step aside and support DeSantis. Trump, in 2024,will be 78 which is too old to be considered a viable candidate by most voters, too self centered to be considered by many independents, and his acts of denigration against other conservative candidates only hurts Republican chances in the general.
The Republicans who rally around Trump are the same fools who supported a losing horse in 2020 and many of them likely won’t even show up at the polls should he get the nomination and expecting him to step away from the primaries will never allow this arrogant self centered blowhard to give up.
As a independent conservative who voted for him twice,2016 and 2020, I attribute his failure in 2020 to his poor campaign which he centered on what he accomplished and ignoring what was left to be done.
For the good of the country, step away from this run Mr. Trump, you will do the country more harm than good.

Ed G
Ed G
1 year ago

DeSantis’s greatest challenge in response to Trump’s antics, will be to remain calm and respectful, and then fire back with indisputable facts that sound more like a sober assessment of Trump and less like leftwing mudslinging. A tall order, but I believe Governor DeSantis is up to the challenge.

PTSD Vet
PTSD Vet
1 year ago

Bite-Me Biden has not formally announced he is running for re-election yet. However, even if he does, let’s not forget Michelle Obummer may run against Biden anyway. If that happens the Republicans will have a tough fight on their hands! Desantis has a great record in FL. Trump helped the USA after the abject failure of putting a SJW in office. So the question isn’t Trump or Desantis, but who could defeat the identity politics of potentially having the first black female president?

dasing
dasing
1 year ago

I thought DeSantis said, after reclaiming the govenership, that he would stay in FL, how about political integrity???

Bobbie
Bobbie
1 year ago

Who wrote this hit job on Trump? I noticed they didn’t sign his/her name.

Ben Ray
Ben Ray
1 year ago

I wish Republicans would come together on something constructive!
Instead of attacking each other on criticisms why not go after the Left and how they are destroying the nation and each Republican candidate put forward their achievements and policies on how to save this country!
All of the Republican candidates have merit and any of them would be a far cry better than Brandon!
One of Biden’s biggest failures was his promise to unite the country… how can Republicans speak to this and offer anything if they cannot even unite themselves!

Hal-
Hal-
1 year ago

At this juncture I would support either. But I do think Trump has become so battered by the constant political torture from the DemocRats , that I think DeSantis would be a more energetic and troublesome candidate for the DemocRat propaganda lies. However, the real problem for the Republicans whoever that nominate to run is still vulnerable to the Democrat’s unfettered rigging of the Election. IMO … the problem of DemocRat election rigging matters more that whoever the Republicans select to run for POTUS.

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