Rich Lowry: Could DeSantis beat Trump? – After world

Rich Lowry

It was only a matter of time before Ron DeSantis’ rising star encountered the immovable object of Donald Trump’s will to continue dominating the GOP.

A spate of recent news has focused on the proto-feud between the former president with future ambitions and the protégé, who led his confirmation to victory in a GOP gubernatorial primary in Florida and has big ambitions of his own.

The magnitude of the clash shouldn’t be exaggerated – so far it’s mostly murmurs from Mar-a-Lago.

It’s obviously insanely early, too. But the Trump-DeSantis story is inherently compelling, given the likelihood of a clash between two men who were allies and the possibility that the underling in the relationship will eclipse the character who helped raise it raise.

Whether that ever happens is unknown, but the spit is revealing nonetheless. One version of what DeSantis represents has the best chance of luring the party away from Trump and forging a new political synthesis that bears Trump’s unmistakable stamp while jettisoning his flaws.

There simply will never be a GOP reveal where the grass roots suddenly decide, “It was a mistake ever accepting Donald Trump, and now we want to be Adam Kinzinger’s party.” There will be no Bourbon restoration.

The challenge to Trump must come from the Trump wing — more like Trump fuselage, wings and landing gear at this point — of the party. Post Trump’s presidency, the party is more populist, culture war-focused, resistant to media narratives and skeptical of corporations – and would remain so if Trump retired tomorrow.

While DeSantis is in many ways an orthodox conservative, he covers those bases. Importantly, he’s a lightning rod for criticism from the left — now a big plus for Republican voters — and gives his best in clashes with the media. There are few reasons, illuminating the Republican base, that he can’t address, whether it’s big tech or critical race theory, and he’s established himself as the party’s role model on the pandemic with his staunch opposition to suspensions and mandates exposed . That gives him credibility with Trump voters and the basis to compete with Trump, not as a critic or scolding, but as someone who can do better.

Indeed, it is likely that the most telling line of attack against a potential candidate Trump would come from the right.

that he dr. Anthony Fauci at the beginning of the pandemic and listened to his advice for too long.

That for all his talk of building the border wall, he failed and left a hopelessly flawed immigration system intact.

That he shook China’s cage but made no fundamental changes to trade relations and was too flattering to President Xi Jinping.

And finally, that he lost to Joe Biden, a hopelessly flawed candidate who only made it to the White House because Trump made himself so unpopular.

Would DeSantis be brave enough to face Trump in 2024? One argument against waiting is that it is extremely unlikely that the governor will be able to maintain his exalted status in the party until 2028.

On the other hand, the enormous risk of encountering the business end of the Trump buzz saw speaks against a candidacy in 2024, which could change DeSantis’ image in the party forever.

Trump took a not-so-veiled shot at DeSantis in a recent interview, hitting nameless “dispirited” politicians who won’t say whether or not they’ve had a COVID-19 booster shot. DeSantis was particularly evasive on the issue, and Trump gave him a hint of things that may be to come.

For now, though, DeSantis should take Trump’s grumblings as a compliment — the former and current GOP champion sees a future threat looming.

Rich Lowry is a syndicated columnist. He’s on Twitter: @RichLowry.


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