How DeSantis Blew It

Portfolio Armor's Photo
by Portfolio Armor
Tuesday, Aug 22, 2023 - 23:33
Ron DeSantis
DeSantis looking like the manager of a hard boiled egg business in Iowa.

Ahead Of The First GOP Debate, DeSantis Has Already Blown It

The first GOP debate is on Wednesday night, but it's unlikely Ron DeSantis will be able to use it to revive his floundering campaign. A look at the betting markets since last December shows how far he has fallen. 

Last December, DeSantis was the odds-on favorite to win the GOP nomination, after cruising to reelection in Florida in a landslide the month before, while establishment Republicans were blaming Trump for the GOP's underwhelming performance in the midterm elections. Now, the odds of DeSantis winning the nomination are lower than those of newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy. What went wrong? 

Even before his reelection in Florida, there were signs something was amiss with DeSantis. Look at his awkward reaction when asked by his opponent Charlie Crist whether he'd serve out his full second term if reelected governor. 

Not Ready For The Big Leagues

DeSantis is a good (though overhyped) governor, but before his campaign for President officially started, it was clear he wasn't ready for the big leagues. 

He looked good getting hits in Florida, but had shown no ability to handle Major League pitching. 

What DeSantis Should Have Done Differently 

The smartest thing for DeSantis to do would have been to endorse Trump for 2024, and wait until 2028 to run. Failing that, DeSantis should have recognized his strengths and weaknesses and structured his campaign accordingly. 

DeSantis's Strengths

  • Excellent resume
  • Good track record in Florida
  • Policy positions similar to Trump on immigration and in some other areas

DeSantis's Weaknesses

  • Lack of gravitas
  • Low charisma 
  • Social awkwardness

How DeSantis Should Have Played To His Strengths

DeSantis looks best on paper: here's a guy with a lot of the same policy ideas as Trump, who also has a record as a competent governor in Florida. The problem for DeSantis is the more voters see of him, the less they like him. The radical solution to that would have been for DeSantis to stay in Florida, and hire a handful of top tier corporate sales reps to make his case on the campaign trail. If voters or the press asked why DeSantis wasn't on the campaign trail himself, his surrogates could have said,

Governor DeSantis is busy governing; that's what he's good at, and that's why you should vote for him. He trusts that voters would rather elect an effective leader than someone who puts eggs on popsicle sticks at the Iowa State Fair.

DeSantis should also have instructed his surrogates to praise and defend Trump whenever Trump's name came up: 

First, Governor DeSantis has tremendous appreciation and respect for President Trump's accomplishments, and his first act when he enters the White House will be to pardon him. President DeSantis will also award Trump the Medal of Freedom for all he has done for this country. 

After that, they could have argued that DeSantis was younger, had less baggage, and could serve two terms.

It's all water over the dam at this point though. DeSantis is about to fall behind Vivek Ramaswamy, who was a better public speaker at age 18 than DeSantis is today. 

Given what we've seen of DeSantis's campaign so far, DeSantis is unlikely to attack Ramaswamy on his two weaknesses, the shady origin of his pharmaceutical fortune, or his enthusiasm for legal immigration, particularly of Indians like his parents. Instead, DeSantis will lament what could have been, and Mrs. DeSantis will miss her opportunity to play Jackie Kennedy. 

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