Former President Donald Trump on April 29 strongly suggested he will be running for the White House again in 2024 and acknowledged that many of his zealous supporters have a particular running mate in mind for him.
“The polls show it and everybody wants me to do it,” Trump told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo. “One hundred percent, I’m thinking about running and we will I think be very successful. We were very successful.”
‘People Love That Ticket’
“Well, he’s a friend of mine. I endorsed Ron. And after I endorsed him, he took off like a rocket ship,” Trump replied, referring to DeSantis’ close 2018 gubernatorial victory over progressive Democrat Andrew Gillum. “He’s done a great job as governor.”
“A lot of people like that — I’m just saying what I read and what you read, they love that ticket,” Trump continued. “But certainly, Ron would be considered. He’s a great guy.” The comments further solidify widespread speculation that former Vice President Mike Pence is no longer even a blip on the America First radar. But they also highlight the lofty heights to which DeSantis’ star has ascended within a party that is still dominated on the grassroots level by Trump.
DeSantis has been the breakout performer of the Beyond the Beltway pushback against coronavirus social curbs emanating out of Washington, D.C. and has displayed a Trumpian-level master hand at using harshly negative big-box media narratives against him to his advantage. When CBS’ 60 Minutes on April 4 went out of its way to falsely accuse him of favoring a Florida supermarket chain on coronavirus vaccine distribution due to campaign donations he had received, DeSantis eviscerated the program and got backing from the Democrat mayor of Palm Beach County. “The reporting was not just based on bad information — it was intentionally false,” Mayor Dave Kerner wrote in a stinging denouncement of CBS.
Trump supporters especially value Republicans who do not kowtow to dominant media framing. DeSantis has shown that he refuses to assume the defensive position that comes naturally to so many elected officials with Rs next to their names. It cannot be overstated how valuable a look this is within the America First wing of the GOP.
Unforced Errors of Others
Contrast this with the disastrous recent performances of rumored 2024 presidential hopefuls Nikki Haley and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.
In February, Haley, the former South Carolina governor and ex-United Nations ambassador, considerably weakened her 2024 prospects by slamming Trump, the most popular figure in her party, in an interview with establishment media organ Politico.
“He’s not going to run for federal office again,” she told the outlet. “I don’t think he’s going to be in the picture … I don’t think he can. He’s fallen so far.”
Haley was hit with an immediate tsunami of criticism from Trump-backing Republicans for the remarks and soon gave evidence she realized the magnitude of her folly. Seeking damage control, she was reportedly turned down in an effort to meet with Trump shortly after the interview was published and by April 12 was whistling an entirely different tune. “I would not run [for president in 2024] if President Trump ran, and I would talk to him about it,” Haley stated of the man she had come to bury just two months earlier.
As unforced errors go, this was hard to top, yet Noem may have done just that. Along with DeSantis, Noem had benefited from the restrictive coronavirus lockdown jargon coming out of Washington more than any other political figure in the Republican Party. Being in South Dakota gave her the additional edge of maintaining that she was as far removed from The Swamp as an elected official could be. And then she threw it all away in one ill-advised swoop.
In March, Noem used a style and form veto to quash a bill to protect female college athletes from having to compete with biological males. To many Republicans, her actions were a transparent surrender to corporate pressure put on her by Amazon, which is building a new fulfillment center in Sioux Falls, and the NCAA, which has threatened to pull its college basketball tournament games from states that pass anti-transgender legislation.
Making matters worse, Noem blamed the backlash she received on “conservative cancel culture.” Lecturing conservatives about their reasons for being upset with politicians is pure poison in a party infused with Trump-style populism. In doubling down on this self-inflicted catastrophe, Noem gulped her strychnine with gusto.
As Trump’s feud with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) continues to roil, anywhere outside the federal government is the place to be for Republicans on the rise. Donald Trump is still the ultimate outsider in the minds of his fervent America First backers. In Florida’s Ron DeSantis, many of his supporters see an ideal sidekick for another Big Push against a political establishment embodied by a Biden administration that serves as a natural foil for all his Make America Great Again movement represents.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.