Ron or Don?
A year ahead of the primaries, Republicans appear able to stop Biden, the spy who loved Xi.
The New York Post reported on Sunday, “Both former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would beat Biden if the 2024 presidential election was held today, the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll found Friday — while nearly two-thirds of those polled, 65%, said Biden should not run for re-election at all.
“The online survey of 2,050 registered voters found that 46% would support Trump in a rematch of the 2020 election, with 41% favoring Biden and 13% unsure. Trump’s 5-point edge was identical to the poll’s December results.
“Biden would lose to DeSantis by a narrower 3-point margin, the survey found. The two-term governor, who has not announced a White House bid, would beat the sitting president by 42% to 39%, with 18% undecided.”
So who is it going to be? I will turn the clock back nearly 43 years to try to discern that answer. On March 5, 1980, Richard J. Cattani of The Christian Science Monitor wrote, “Is defeat probable for GOP if Reagan wins the nomination?”
He quoted I. A. Lewis, director of the Los Angeles Times Poll, who said, “Carter could beat Reagan more easily than he could George Bush or Howard Baker. A moderate Republican would appeal to moderate Democrats, while upper-income Republicans might defect from Reagan to the Democrats.”
Cattani also quoted elections analyst Richard Scammon, who said, “The odds are very good that Reagan will not be successful in November. It looks like the Republicans have done it again. Down-the-line conservatism has triumphed over down-the-line center forces.”
The experts also believed Reagan was too old, but the public saw it otherwise. Reagan may have been older than salt, but voters saw him as the salt of the Earth. Not only did the rank-and-file Republicans nominate him, but Reagan Democrats joined them in November and he carried 44 states.
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Four years later, the issue of age rose again as he sought re-election. The question popped up in his second presidential debate with Fritz Mondale.
Henry Trehwitt of the Baltimore Sun asked, “You already are the oldest president in history. And some of your staff say you were tired after your most recent [debating] encounter with Mr. Mondale. I recall yet that President Kennedy had to go for days on end with very little sleep during the Cuban missile crisis. Is there any doubt in your mind that you would be able to function in such circumstances?”
Reagan replied, “Not at all, Mr. Trehwitt, and I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience. If I still have time, I might add, Mr. Trehwitt, I might add that it was Seneca, or it was Cicero, I don’t know which, that said, ‘If it was not for the elders correcting the mistakes of the young, there would be no state.’”
Mondale laughed — and instantly knew it was over. Every Cleveland sports fan knows that feeling then they realize this is not the home team’s year. Guardians fans then ask, “How about those Browns?” Browns fans later will ask, “How about those Cavs?” And inevitably, Cavs fans will ask, “How about those Indians?” because nobody ever calls them the Guardians in private.
Reagan’s success is comforting to President Trump, but he should not get too comfortable because 1984 was two generations ago. Everyone under 40 next year will not have been born when Reagan was re-elected. No, when they think of old presidents, they think of FJB, who is in the mid-stages of dementia.
The New York Post reported on Friday, the second anniversary of Biden’s inauguration, “Charlamagne tha God suggests Biden has dementia: ‘I saw him talking to a ghost.’”
Charlamagne is a morning radio celebrity in New York City who has interviewed Biden. The Post put the ghost talk in perspective, noting, “The radio hosts may have been referencing the September incident when Biden repeatedly looked for Congresswoman Jackie Walorski in the crowd of a White House event one month after she was killed in a car crash. The infamous gaffe spurred speculation over Biden’s mental capabilities.”
Biden losing his brain is not much of a loss. He has always been a dullard, a political savant who knows how to win elections and how to make a fortune through bribes and kickbacks. As Hollywood Henderson once said of Terry Bradshaw, he couldn't spell cat if you spotted him the C and the T.
So Trump’s age will be an issue.
Then there is the Hillary Factor. A lengthy investigation of her family’s finances, her stand-by-your-man approach to the L’Affaire L’Winsky, Benghazi and those 33,000 emails gave voters Hillary Fatigue.
Gallup reported on Election Day 2016, “Trump's 61% unfavorable score is worst in presidential polling history. Clinton's 52% unfavorable score is second-worst.”
44% of the voters could not bring themselves to vote given the choices.
Since then, Democrats have worked to create Trump Fatigue. They have savaged President Trump with bogus investigations, insane impeachments and frivolous lawsuits. The FBI — which spied on Trump at the behest of Obama the Awful — raided Mar-a-Lago and confiscated 11,000 items including 1,693 newspapers, magazines and clippings. So far, no classified items have shown up, although the FBI claims there were 100 or so such documents.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, right? In this case, there’s dry ice because nothing is as it seems in Washington. I suffer from Trump Fatigue Fatigue, which means I am tired of the FBI, the media and the Democrat Party trying to wear me out. I not only will crawl over broken glass to vote for the man, I will break glass and bring it to the polls so I can crawl over it.
Or will I?
There’s another Florida Man seeking the nomination. Governor Ron DeSantis has done a terrific job of handling covid — no vaccine mandates and no masks — as well as fighting CRT and groomers in school. Florida taxes are low and Florida’s budget surplus is high. His motto for Florida is “Where woke goes to die.”
Plus, DeSantis is a quarter-century younger and new. What’s not to like?
After the election, Politico reported, “Hedge fund CEO and philanthropist Ken Griffin smiled when asked if he wants to be the No. 1 political donor in 2024.
“He has given nearly $60 million to federal Republican candidates and campaigns this election cycle. That puts Griffin behind just liberal billionaire George Soros, who’s given more than $128 million to Democrats, and Richard Uihlein, who aligns himself with far-right candidates and organizations, at about $62 million.”
Griffin said, “Do I get a bronze medal?”
The story continued, “Bronze-level giving by Griffin, 54, would be welcome news for one potential 2024 hopeful: Ron DeSantis. During an interview in his temporary offices in downtown Miami, detailing how he directs his political contributions, Griffin told Politico that he’s prepared to back the Florida governor if he runs for the White House. Griffin was the leading donor to DeSantis’ reelection campaign this cycle, dropping $5 million.”
Stories like that make MAGA voters nervous. DeSantis is a former congressman, which automatically places him on the defense with MAGA.
After DeSantis won re-election, Ross Douthat of the New York Times wrote, “right now it looks as if DeSantis will be able to sell himself as the Republican who overperformed amid general underperformance, the only Republican who fully exploited the openings the Biden Democrats gave the G.O.P., the Republican who actually achieved the kind of realigning victory that Trumpism’s theoreticians kept promising was just around the corner.
“In a normal political world, a normal political party, you would say that DeSantis effectively became the 2024 Republican front-runner last night. Nothing about the G.O.P. has been normal since Trump descended that escalator in 2015, so I won’t be claiming anything so definite.
“But the script has been written, the stage prepared: Now we’ll see whether the governor of Florida can play the part that’s waiting for him.”
Nothing quite delivers a kiss of death like an endorsement from a New York Times columnist re-printed by the American Enterprise Institute, which gave the world Jonah Goldberg.
Then there is the Gaetz factor. Congressman Matt Gaetz was an early and crucial supporter of DeSantis in 2018 when he edged out the Establishment favorite, Adam Putnam, Florida’s agriculture commissioner, for the Republican nomination. Gaetz was a key advisor early on to the new governor.
But after the 2022 election, Florida Politics reported, “Matt Gaetz picks Donald Trump over Ron DeSantis in 2024.”
The congressman said, “America needs Donald Trump in the White House.
“The job President Trump started was not finished. Only Trump can be trusted to enact the America First agenda he ran on in 2016. We won’t accept any imitation. Despite what many Washington, D.C., conservative elites want you to believe, we are not in the post-Trump era or close to it.”
Gaetz ragged on donors and supporters of DeSantis including Griffin and the man who made Pelosi speaker again, Paul Ryan.
Given Gaetz’s role in making Kevin McCarthy jump through hoops for 14 ballots until giving him a passive nod to become speaker on the 15th vote, Gaetz has ample MAGA cred. Oh, he will never be president but he will have an outsized say in who will be next year.
The press will play Trump against DeSantis and vice versa. Nothing personal. It is what the press does. And the candidates who are running just for the loot from donors will get a lot of attention. CNN and MSNBC will make them stars, just like the news channels made a star out of Michael Avenatti.
Politics can be fun but never as much fun as kicking the media in the buns. But not everyone in the media is a fool. Radio personality Bill Mitchell is back on Twitter after a long ban for no reason. He’s really into the Ron-Don Showdown.
Mitchell tweeted, “Everyone is expecting Trump to go super-negative on DeSantis. That's why Trump should do the exact opposite and raise DeSantis up as a great governor.
“It would destroy the biggest knock on Trump, that he is toxic. It also positions Trump to tap DeSantis as VP if it gets to that.”
Mitchell also tweeted, “If I had dared be critical of Trump in 2016 or 2020, I'd have been crucified on Twitter.
“Now 80% of the replies agree with me. Things have changed. Trump needs to fix this by going super-positive. He needs to be anti-toxic.
“He should even praise DeSantis as a great governor.”
And he tweeted, “If Trump is the nominee, the ONLY ticket that can unite the party and also win is Trump/DeSantis. If DeSantis is the nominee, he wins the general election easily, but not sure DeSantis can win the nomination — Trump has the plurality in early races in a large field.”
The Trump/DeSantis is a wet dream for many. The flaw in that is the 30 Florida electors could vote for only one and not the other. It’s in the Constitution. Florida’s 30 electors would be forced to vote for an alternative Republican VP candidate. If DeSantis did not get 270 votes in the Electoral College, the Senate would pick one. That opens the possibility of saddling Trump with a Democrat vice president. The last Republican to have a Democrat veep was Lincoln. Democrats assassinated him six weeks after his inauguration.
And there is also the Reagan/Bush factor. Reagan carried Bush for eight years and got him elected president. Bush showed all the gratitude of a shark by calling for a “kinder, gentler America.” That resulted in a war, a recession and — read my lips — mo’ new taxes. Always remember Bush’s reaction to Tiananmen Square. He started trade with Red China. He also gave us the New World Order.
DeSantis is no Bush.
In 2016, the issue was Making America Great Again. There was only one man who could deliver that. Now there may be two. My heart says Trump 2024. My brain asks, what’s the rush?
Tomorrow’s column is “Influencer-enza.”
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