Trump Plays Nice About Potential 2024 Showdown With DeSantis, but How Long Will the Geniality Last?

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

And so it begins. Or more accurately, so it continues. With the 2022 midterm elections looming, both in time and with much at stake for both parties, make no mistake: The race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination is underway in earnest and the wheels are turning in multiple directions.

Let’s just hope those wheels don’t fall off before it’s over.

While all eyes have been on Donald Trump since the 2020 election disaster and even more disastrous aftermath, a growing number of those eyes are also focused on popular Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, with whom, unlike probable candidate Mike Pompeo, secretary of State under Trump, the former president reportedly maintains a good relationship.

So, the question: Regardless of whether any other Republicans enter the race, if both Trump and “Ron,” as Trump recently referred to DeSantis do run, what will their relationship look like in the end — not to mention the state of the entire Republican Party?

In a New Yorker op-ed titled, Can Ron DeSantis Displace Donald Trump as the GOP’s Combatant in Chief?, columnist Dexter Filkin observed of DeSantis: “a fervent opponent of mask mandates and ‘woke’ ideology, the Florida governor channels the same rage as the former president, but with greater discipline.” I cannot disagree with Filkin’s assessment — except for the “rage” part — but more importantly, it appears that neither can a growing number of Republican voters. To believe that Trump and his inner circle are not concerned with that reality would be a gross miscalculation. So what does Trump himself really think?

Trump not only told The New Yorker he’s not worried in the least about DeSantis jumping into the race; he also said he hasn’t even discussed it with the governor.

I don’t know if Ron is running, and I don’t ask him. It’s his prerogative. I think I would win.

Very cordial. Not to mention severely brief for Trump. Surprisingly so. But color me skeptical. Before the 2016 Republican Party primaries were over, Trump had burned nearly every other candidate to the ground with personal attacks, from “Low Energy Jeb” Bush, to “Little Marco” Rubio, to “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz. To believe it would be any different if other candidates join Trump in the 2024 race would be a fool’s game.

And according to The New Yorker, Trump associates are already trying to kill a bid by DeSantis.

Here’s more, via The New York Post:

Trump and DeSantis are widely viewed as the leading contenders for the Republican nomination in 2024, and the report said that the former president claimed to have a “very good relationship” with the governor and added that “I’m proud of Ron.”​

However, [The New Yorker] claimed that Trump has become increasingly resentful of DeSantis as the Floridian’s popularity grows in Republican circles.

“He won’t kiss the ring,”​ the magazine quoted a political leader who talks to DeSantis as saying.

The main source of tension between the two appears to be DeSantis’s drift away from Trump’s influence — as shown by the governor’s dwindling number of visits to Mar-a-Lago since the 2020 presidential election.

A lawyer who has a relationship with both Trump and DeSantis told The New Yorker: “Ron will tell you he’s doing everything he can for the president, and he’ll sound believable.” But apparently, Trump felt DeSantis was trying to distance himself after Trump lost the 2020 election to Biden. Still, noted The New York Post, Trump invited DeSantis to a join him onstage at a July 2021 Sarasota rally. Would he show? A former Republican congressman told The New Yorker:

There were alarm bells ringing — will DeSantis appear? Ron didn’t want to be onstage with Trump.

Trump was also annoyed, according to The New Yorker, that DeSantis did not immediately rule out a presidential campaign despite knowing that the former president was teeing up another White House run. Interesting, or arrogant? Both. Why should any potential presidential candidate “immediately rule out a run” based solely on whether another candidate enters a race — or not? “Loyalty”?

Not to start (rekindle) a firestorm, but there was no one more loyal to Donald Trump throughout his presidency than Vice President Mike Pence. Yet, when Pence correctly decided to reject Trump’s pressure to attempt an unconstitutional action (I know what I’m talking about: see Electoral Count Act of 1887) and “send it back to the states: (no mechanism exists by which to do that) how did that work out for Pence? Hell, “Hang Mike Pence” trended on Twitter on January 6 within 90 minutes of Trump telling the gathered crowd: “Mike let us down, today.”

If, for example, Mike Pompeo, as I suggested at the top, or Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who is also strongly considering a run, believe they have something to offer Republican voters that other Republican candidates lack, why should they not run?

The exception, in my view, which I have predicted, and may very well be proved wrong — I hope I will be — in 2024 would be other candidates backing away if (when) Donald Trump finally makes his announcement, because of concern that the slash-and-burn tactics of Trump and his loyalists would reduce or eliminate their respective possibilities of future successful runs. That is understandable, given the tactics of 2016 and the disaster of 2020. I just hope it doesn’t happen.

I do hope constitutional conservatives — not to be confused with “RINOs” — kick this thing into high gear and let the chips fall where they may.

Ooh, I almost forgot: Stick a fork in the pipedream notion of some that Ron DeSantis would run in the two-slot behind Donald Trump; it is not going to happen. Period.

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Single Response to WSJ Op-Ed Lays out Clear Path for GOP Recapturing White House in 2024