DeSantis should go for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination – and he should set up his exploratory committee immediately. This is good advice if former President Trump does not run – or even if he does.
If Trump decides to take a pass on the 2024 Republican nomination, he is not likely to do so until much closer to the election. Such a delay is in his best interest – and you know what that means. He remains more relevant and powerful as long as there is a possibility that he will run – and even win back the White House. As long as he is a possible presidential candidate, Trump will have enhanced fundraising muscle. That all diminishes if he pulls out of contention.
If he does not run and postpone that decision, other potential candidates will have a short time to build their presidential campaign structure and raise sufficient funds. That needs to be started almost immediately for 2024 – with the public announcements no later than November. After the 2022 Midterm Elections.
But what if Trump does decide to run?
In view of Trump’s vote gathering history, there are legitimate questions as to whether he could win a General Election in 2024. He has never shown an ability to be an overwhelming favorite among voters – the 2020 election notwithstanding. He won the 2016 GOP presidential nomination because of the large field of candidates who divided up the majority of the votes in the primaries. In 2016, most Republican voters preferred a candidate other than Trump.
He won the General Election based on the Electoral College vote. He lost the popular vote. In 2018 – in which Trump’s shadow loomed largely – Republicans lost control of the House. In 2020, Trump had an easy road to the nomination as the incumbent President. And without getting into the controversy revolving around the 2020 General Election, President Biden is sitting in the White House — and the OFFICIAL and certified vote put Trump in second place in the Electoral College and the popular vote.
While I do believe that Trump has been mercilessly harassed by a corrupt political opposition, I also believe that he does have significant legal problems that can further damage his potential for a comeback. We just cannot know what political strength he may have going into the next presidential season. The Republican Party may need another option.
In short, the GOP would be better served if Trump were to face competition within his own Party. It would reveal his true grassroots voter strength. Providing Trump with a free pass to the nomination could prove to be a disaster for the Republican Party – which is primed to take the White House in 2024.
If I were DeSantis – or any other potential presidential contender – I would announce my interest in running very soon – set up the necessary “exploratory committee.” But I would leave open whether I would ultimately challenge Trump – or withdraw if he entered the race.
That would put Trump in a bit of a box. He would be less likely to go on the attack prior to entering the race. Angering an opponent who might drop out would likely cause any early contender to dig in his – or her – heels. The Trump-style nasty attacks would be postponed at least until Trump had one or more candidates who were committed to take the race to the finish line.
DeSantis should get in quickly – with the potential of dropping out. Even if he did drop out, the experience of running an aborted campaign would provide greater name recognition and experience – and the start of an ongoing federal campaign fund that could be used for a future presidential or Senate race.
Whether DeSantis withdraws for Trump – and if there were no body blows during the early campaign – DeSantis could be on the Trump ticket as the vice-presidential candidate. And even if he is defeated in the primaries by Trump – or another GOP candidate – the Florida Governor is young enough to have several opportunities for a presidential run in the future. It took President Biden three tries over 40-plus years.
DeSantis – more than any current GOP personality – has the longest political yellow brick road ahead of him. His best strategy is to keep his options open as he pursues them.
Looking into the political crystal ball – admittedly a bit early – I see DeSantis beating Trump in a one-on-one contest for a lot of reasons. I will defer commenting on them at least until early 2024 if it comes down to a Trump/DeSantis race.
Florida is the home of three potential 2024 candidates – Trump, DeSantis and Senator Marco Rubio. However, I think Trump and DeSantis suck up all the political oxygen in the Sunshine State. I can say – for what it is worth – that a lot of local Republicans I know – who have been beating the drums for Trump — would cast their ballot for DeSantis over Trump in the Florida primary. Me included.
So, there ‘tis.