Friday, March 4, 2022

The Hard Choice of 2024: Trump or DeSantis?

The Hard Choice of 2024: Trump or DeSantis?

AP Photo/John Raoux

As I said last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis was the undisputed star of the first day of CPAC. His speech had all the elements of a presidential stump speech. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that he’ll be president one day.

The question is, when will that day be? 2024? 2028?

Conventional wisdom is that, despite not officially announcing it, Donald Trump will run again in 2024, and if he does, the nomination is his. The CPAC 2022 Straw Poll is only the latest “poll” to confirm this.

“Donald Trump was the clear winner with 59%, and Ron DeSantis came in second at 28%,” PJ Media’s Athena Thorne reported Sunday. “When Trump was removed from the ballot, DeSantis ran away with it with 61% of the vote.”

This not only shows that Trump is the clear favorite, but it also reveals that a sizable minority would like to see Trump pass the baton to someone else, with the runaway favorite being DeSantis.

Also for our VIPS: The Democrats’ Laughable 2024 Bench

Before CPAC, I was all for Trump in 2024, and I still am. But there was something about DeSantis and his speech that made me think I wouldn’t be all that disappointed if Donald Trump decided to sit out 2024. I was so impressed by Ron DeSantis — whom I hadn’t seen deliver a speech in person before — that I couldn’t help but think, “Okay, if Trump doesn’t run, at least we have DeSantis,” and feel at ease about it.

Can you blame me? Just look at how DeSantis has led in Florida. He’s done a fantastic job as governor, and that kind of leadership in the White House is exactly what the country needs.

Donald Trump was an effective conservative leader, but he also burned a lot bridges during his time in the White House (and since), which makes me question whether he can assemble a loyal team. Think about it: how many people served in his administration only to release a tell-all book blasting him later on? Trump has made enemies out of allies, and that’s a weakness. Former Trump administration officials dishing on him during the 2024 election would be problematic. Whether they’re trying to be in the cool crowd in Washington, D.C. or just sell books, that’s a distraction we don’t need.

Should Joe Biden run again in 2024 — which he probably won’t, but if he does — Candidate Trump would make it harder for the 2024 election to be a referendum on Joe Biden’s disastrous presidency. Since leaving office, Trump has spent a significant amount of time talking about the 2020 election, election fraud, and election irregularities. It will be difficult for him to run a campaign in 2024 that doesn’t make the 2020 election a major issue. We don’t want to be running a candidate in 2024 who constantly forces us to look back at 2020.

Don’t get me wrong — we should be talking about election integrity and ensuring that the irregularities and shenanigans that occurred in 2020 don’t ever happen again. But regardless of what you think about the 2020 election and what occurred, it’s time to move on.

“Florida has done more than any other state in the country to ensure the integrity of our elections,” DeSantis said in his CPAC speech. He then pointed out how one of the first things he did when he became governor in 2019, before people were even talking about election integrity, was to accept the resignation of the embattled election supervisors in Broward County and Palm Beach County.

“We didn’t change the rules when COVID came; we followed the law,” DeSantis said. “We counted 99% of the ballots by midnight on election night.”

“It was transparent. It was fair,” he continued. “We did a good job but we also understood there were a lot of shenanigans in other parts of the country. So last year, I signed legislation banning ballot harvesting in the state of Florida, banning mass mail balloting, unsolicited mail ballots in the state of Florida. And maybe most importantly, we have banned ‘Zuckerbucks’ in the state of Florida.”

Ron DeSantis has shown that he can talk about election integrity without it seeming personal or vengeful. As such, that would make him the more effective candidate on virtually every issue.

Do I want Trump to sit out 2024? I’m not sure yet. All I know is that I walked into CPAC thinking I’d support Trump in 2024, but Ron DeSantis really impressed me. I’ll support either one of them 110% in the next election. While I believe either can win, DeSantis has made me wonder whether 2024 should be his moment, not Trump’s.

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