Ron DeSantis is now slowly, kinda starting to announce his presidential candidacy and criticize Donald Trump. He says, for instance, that the “underlying conduct” in the Stormy Daniels case is “just outside my wheelhouse.” And if that seems a bit underwhelming, yeah, that was kind of my impression too. He also says that a political leader should try to be “like our founding fathers” and have “character.” He notes at one point in an interview with Piers Morgan that George Washington “always put the Republic over his own personal interest.” As I think about it, in a pre-Trump world these might be fighting words. Sorta. But not in the Trump era. Not if you’re trying to take down Donald Trump.
The bigs in D.C. even seem to be hoping for a bit more. Axios reports today that DeSantis said about Trump, “I think he got way too big for his britches, and I think he did a lot of damage.” When I saw this quote I thought “Wow, maybe Ron ain’t taking any prisoners after all. I guess I have to revise my view!”
But when I looked at the actual article in The New York Post, it turns out Mike Allen or the Axios editors got confused. The quote is: “The approach to COVID was different. I would have fired somebody like Fauci. I think he got way too big for his britches, and I think he did a lot of damage.”
They appear to have corrected it in the archived version of the email newsletter. But it’s preserved in the morning email.
So yeah, not really.
This process is going to chew DeSantis up. It may hurt Trump some among the general electorate. It may provide some mild confirmation for Republicans who really would like Trump to leave. But partly because this is simply an impossible needle to thread and partly because DeSantis lacks the verbal dexterity to pull it off, I don’t think it will work. Comments about George Washington and wheelhouses is just too timid and too clever by half to work in the pro-wrestling mindset of the Trump GOP.