And Now, New Acts Emerge in the GOP's 2024 Drama With Hope, but Big Doubts

AP Photo/Jill Colvin

The best day of any political campaign, I quickly learned in that line of work, is the first day. After the bright lights and excitement of the heady launch, everything starts sliding downhill.

The goal is to slow the slide enough and ride out the inevitable turbulence to be ahead at the end.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is about to have the best day of his campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. So is the well-funded South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and probably others officially joining the GOP field of five announced candidates going into this pre-holiday week.

At the moment, DeSantis is weakened but still the leading candidate to slay the political dragon of Donald Trump.

While Florida’s chief executive was busy governing after a landslide reelection, the unemployed former president attacked DeSantis relentlessly and effectively, while still steaming over his own reelection rejection.

And media, like the German-owned Politico, has piled on, desperately trying to recreate a Trump match-up against Joe Biden that polarizes America, drives hot news cycles, and boosts business.

Oh, and that also gives Democrats at least a chance of renewing the Bidens’ lease in luxury government housing.

I have no inside knowledge, but I simply cannot believe that Joe Biden will be the Democrat nominee next year. He is so thoroughly damaged.

The traditional alternative would be his vice-presidential partner, the Word Salad Lady. And if they somehow wisely bypass the first black VP, Democrats face backlash.

This is Democrat karma for picking Kamala Harris in 2020 based on her checked boxes, not intellect, smarts, or speaking ability, all of which she lacks in abundance.

The current 80-year-old commander in chief has the worst job approval of any president ever at this point in a first term. He’s underwater on virtually every single issue. The nation’s Right Track-Wrong Track is two-to-one Wrong.

And a whopping majority no longer thinks Brandon is mentally capable of being president. How do Democrats again foist such an addled individual on our nation unless they value nothing beyond clinging to power?

Biden faces potential troubles over illegal possession of classified documents. The Justice Department and House Oversight Committee are looking into immense suspicious money transfers from China to mysterious shell companies owned by the Biden family.

Then, there’s his sleazy son Hunter who’s blithely been selling influence abroad while dodging child-support payments at home.

Every public Biden appearance provides fresh cringe-worthy evidence that he’s not all there mentally or physically. He needs staff notes to tell him who’s standing next to him and to say thank you to one of them. My colleague Nick Arama wrote on this earlier.

And there’s an excellent reason why the Democratic National Committee refuses to allow any primary debates with Joe Biden, who so often gets lost exiting a stage.

Mark Hirsch

Every party wants to maintain power. That’s OK. But to avoid dereliction of national responsibility the leadership product you offer voters better be up to the job. Or seem like it. Biden clearly isn’t and doesn’t.

No one wants to imagine how he’d be at age 86.

Or conceive of the challenges concocted abroad by adversaries taking advantage of Mr. Magoo’s perceived weaknesses.

You’ll note Russia’s Vladimir Putin didn’t start assembling Ukraine invasion forces while someone else was U.S. president. China’s now making louder noises and moves about a Taiwan takeover. And North Korea’s back to ICBM testing.

The only respectable out for Democrats before their convention in Chicago would be some kind of feigned or exaggerated physical problem that would let Biden exit honorably to the beach with excessively high praise for his long (if unremarkable) service on the government payroll, achievement accolades, and silent sighs of relief.

Trump is just four years younger. He’s overweight and has other unattractive issues. But he shows no signs of the physical or mental decay that Biden routinely displays and Jill tries to mask.

There’s a reason, besides being Corvette-cool, that Biden wears those large aviator sunglasses, even indoors at times. Look into his eyes. They’re empty, glazed, and have great trouble reading even large type, and more trouble translating the large letters into intelligible words.

Anyone who’s watched a loved one decay away knows that look. Do you want those eyes overseeing the nuclear launch codes?

We’ve not heard much yet from Trump about the policies of a POTUS 47.

He’d like us, legitimately, to remember the many kept promises and policies of his first term such as the tax cuts, new jobs, rebuilt military, enforced erasure of the ISIS caliphate, conservative judges and justices, deregulation, energy independence, the anti-abortion stance and the ensuing demise of the original Roe decision.

Alas, he still whines about the stolen election of 2020, which is so old and unhelpful, even if it had been true. Collectively, American voters can be wise on Election Day. But individually beforehand, they’re often excited like kids on Christmas morning. What’s next?

Trump’s current and pending legal problems will reinforce anti-Trumpers’ conviction that he’s unfit and may peel away some independents.

However, absent some startling new evidence, to Trump adherents they’re all just more gratuitous undermining efforts by the Swamp. (See the twin impeachments, Russiagate, etc)

Court cases and indictments seem unlikely to hurt Trump with his granite-strong base of probably 30 or 40 percent of GOP primary voters. They’ve stuck by him through scandal, both real and fake.

That plurality could still be sufficient to earn the nomination if enough other valid Republican candidates jump in to split the non-Trump vote.

Remember Trump lost the Iowa caucus in the 2016 primaries, which had 17 GOP candidates. He won the New Hampshire primary with 35.6 percent of the vote. But seven other Republicans captured 63.2 percent.

In South Carolina: Trump got 32.5 percent. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz 45 percent combined. But in many states, even just a plurality vote earns every convention delegate.

Trump’s strategy then and now is to attack and to mock opponents. It worked then and so far now.

While DeSantis masterminded another conservatively-productive state legislative session, Trump relentlessly went after Ron DeSanctimonious. The governor’s GOP poll numbers fell, while remaining above others.

However, a new poll shows DeSantis as the only GOP candidate ahead of Biden in the most important swing states.

The reality is this horserace is going to change scores of times in the next 10 or 12 months. Few voters, except RedState’s highly intelligent VIP subscribers, pay consistent attention now or through much of the summer. Maybe even through the first GOP primary debate in August on Fox News and Rumble.

Media will herald each blip as a major turning point that could mean all kinds of things, like the end of this candidacy or the victory of another. Just ignore this noise.

News consumers would be well advised to hold their despair and delight until this time next year. Historically, primary candidates in the lead this early flame out by the end. Remember President Dick Gephardt? Or President Newt Gingrich?

Some media have already suggested the DeSantis campaign is over when it doesn’t even start until late this week with an FEC filing and major donor meeting in Miami.

There’s a practical reason DeSantis and his wife Casey have already visited Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire. Privately, it’s called “Practice.”

Trump helped DeSantis win narrowly in 2018. And the Navy veteran’s savvy political sense has dominated Florida politics for four years now. But the spotlight, attention, pressures, and fatigue of a campaign for national office is a whole other ball game.

First impressions are important. DeSantis will surely be closely watched. Every slip will become major news. OMG, he didn’t know the price of milk! Or gas. Smart showings will go ignored. Then, if DeSantis shows well next year, media’s 20/20 hindsight will declare they knew all along Trump was weak.

Remember during previous primary campaigns, Hillary Clinton didn’t know or couldn’t pronounce Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev’s name. George W. Bush didn’t know who was running Pakistan. The allegedly empathetic Biden had a disturbingly combative town hall persona.

The Democrats’ 2007-08 primary competition was the first national campaign for an ambitious new guy, Barack Obama. One day, that Chicago Democrat proudly informed reporters that so far, he had visited 57 of the states.

I’ll have to check. But I don’t recall that such astounding ignorance of the country he sought to lead terminated Obama’s political career.


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