Between Ron DeSantis, Liz Cheney and Donald Trump, the Republicans seem to have already chosen their candidate for 2024 – or have they?
First published: August 2022.
As in any political party, the Republicans have their craven politicians (i.e. Florida Governor Ron Dion DeSantis, Senator Ted Cruz – every Republican who had bad things to say about Donald Trump until they needed to sing his praises or lose his voters) and their principled politicians (Cong. Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, and their eight colleagues who voted to impeach Trump).
The Republican Party seems to have chosen which of the crossroads they choose.
This day, though, should not pass without noting the expected and unselfish loss of Cheney last night in Wyoming. Everyone, including Cheney, knew it was coming but now it’s official. And she’s made it clear she will continue her effort to deny Trump the nomination next year.
If she runs as a Republican, which she will, and wins 30% of certain states’ votes in the primary (as she did yesterday in a state Trump twice won by 40 points), she could pull it off and go down in history, again, this time for actually slaying the dragon.
It must be mentioned that while Cheney and others oppose Trump because of his behavior and anti-Constitution tactics, she voted with him 92% of the time. Kinzinger voted with him 90% of the time. These are not bad Republicans; they just oppose Trump.
Cheney knows she will not be the 2024 GOP nominee. DeSantis wants to be.
Cheney’s strategy is not to win a nomination she can’t win, it’s based on stopping Trump from getting being the nominee. DeSantis’ strategy is to create a state that appeals to Trump-base voters so he can win the nomination.
Liz Cheney. | Wikimedia/Hudson Institute
If you want to experience what life would be like if, instead of his ego, ex-President Trump focused on the policies he claims to support, just move to Florida.
While the political world and punditry continue to cover the Trump travails, the man lying in wait to pounce on the former President if he is sufficiently wounded is building his coming presidential campaign demonstrating what life will be like if he is elected president.
DeSantis is creating an autocratic, mini-Trump World in Florida that he’s hoping will position him as the heir apparent, who will do for America what he’s doing to Florida.
For example, in Florida DeSantis has:
- Suspended a duly elected state attorney who, among other things the governor doesn’t like, pledged he will not use his office to “criminalize” health care, including prosecuting women who get abortions and people seeking gender-affirming medical treatments. The state attorney, Andrew Warren, was suspended by DeSantis for being a “woke” prosecutor more interested in social justice than in enforcing the law;
- Stripped away constitutional rights for millions of people in Florida, Black Floridians, who will now find it harder to vote because of a DeSantis law that creates unnecessary restrictions targeting election fraud that doesn’t exist;
- Created a law where women stand to lose their right to make their own reproductive health choices. A judge already has ruled the DeSantis law is unconstitutional under state law;
- Targeted the LGBTQ community with his “don’t say gay” law that stops educators from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity with students.
But … wait … there’s more!
He also has:
- Accused teachers of putting “incredibly disturbing” books on their shelves;
- Signed a law that makes it easier for parents to challenge books and instructional material they don’t approve. Among the books banned so far or proposed for elimination: “The Handmaid’s Tale”, “The Kite Runner”, “Beloved”;
- Targeted college faculty who, under a DeSantis law, would be surveyed by the state about their political beliefs;
- Punished Disney World by eliminating a taxing district in central Florida favorable to Disney (creator of thousands of jobs and engine for millions in tourist dollars) because the company criticized the “don’t say gay” law.
DeSantis does not hide his hideous behavior. He features it because he knows it appeals to a segment of the Republican base – that segment that Trump has captured by way of giving the finger to The Establishment. That segment will likely be key to winning the nomination in 2024.
DeSantis doesn’t hide his ambitions either. He is traveling to states he’s never traveled to before as governor to broaden his reach and raise money.
Ron DeSantis. | Flickr/Gage Skidmore
But, wait again, there’s yet even more!
The Washington Post reported that journalists hoping to cover a GOP rally featuring DeSantis and Senate candidate J. D. Vance in Oho will have to agree to hand organizers access to any footage they take, and could face questioning for their intentions of using that footage.
Plus, the organizers are restricting journalists to specific events and bar them from recording speakers who do not want to be filmed.
Turning Point Action, which has its origins in Trump world, is the organizer and has warned violators could be kicked out. To be fair, DeSantis isn’t setting the rules. But he also hasn’t, yet, condemned them.
DeSantis isn’t bashful about his ambitions, and Trump would claim that without the former president’s backing, DeSantis wouldn’t be in office. Thus, he is another disloyal “supporter”.
Trump is leading too-early polls on the GOP nomination for 2024. DeSantis is a distant second in most. Polls, of course, among other factors depend on the wording of a question. A recent New York Times-Siena poll showed that more than half of the Republicans surveyed do not want Trump to run. That is not the same as asking, in isolation, who they would support.
It’s far too early to predict what’s going to happen – not to mention a bunch of investigations into Trump regarding January 6, his attempted meddling in the 2020 election counts and the Trump company business.
But the leading candidates for the Republican nomination are Donald J. Trump and Ron Dion DeSantis.
Original Trump or Trump II.
— AUTHOR —
▫ B. Jay Cooper, Former deputy White House press secretary to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Also headed communications offices at the RNC, U.S. Department of Commerce, and Yale University.
- Text: This piece was originally published in The Screaming Moderate and re-published in PMP Magazine on 18 August 2022, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Flickr/Trump White House Archived. - Donald Trump. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)