“And Trump is not somebody who’s going to sit back. He created DeSantis. And he fundamentally believes that he can destroy DeSantis.” — Nikki Fried, Florida Agriculture Commissioner
I know it must be hard to fathom how far to the right Republicans have drifted in the past five years. Believe it or not, Trump may well be seen by 2024 as the head of the party’s moderate wing compared to his neo-fascist rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis currently leads all Republican candidates in a hypothetical 2024 GOP primary that excludes former President Donald Trump.
If you want to picture the developing trends within the MAGA camp metaphorically, think of Trump as the old virus and DeSantis as the variant. DeSantis, whose state has led the nation in Covid cases, sued school districts in his state over their mandating of masks in school. Now he’s his main rival in the next presidential primary and DT doesn’t like it one bit.
Trump is back on the right-wing talk show circuit making it clear to members of his party that it’s his party. In the interview aired on Tuesday on the far-right One America News Network, Trump said:
“I’ve had the booster. Many politicians — I watched a couple of politicians be interviewed and one of the questions was, ‘Did you get the booster?’ Because they had the vaccine. And they’re answering like, in other words, the answer is yes, but they don’t want to say it. Because they’re gutless. You got to say it, whether you had it or not. Say it.”
According to the NYT, the “gutless” pol Trump was referring to is DeSantis who’s now poised on Trump’s right flank, ready to become Omicron to Trump’s Delta.
Wing-nut pundit Ann Coulter, who was once a staunch supporter of Trump fronted for DeSantis, mocked Trump’s booster remarks on Twitter on Wednesday, and then blasted DT as a “liar and a con-man”
The irony is hard to bear.
Remember, it was Trump who initially minimized the Covid threat as a “hoax”, blamed it all on the Chinese, and then advocated the bleach and ivermectin cocktail as a treatment. But in recent weeks, with midterm elections on the horizon, he’s once again rebranded. Now he’s posing as a pro-vax and booster guy in order to appeal to suburban swing voters.
But his announcement, three weeks ago, on Hannity, that he had been boosted brought a round of boos from his own cult followers. They had been conditioned by Trump himself to boo and hiss any time someone mentions the word, “vaccine.” Now he had to shhh them publicly.
For many party members who had paid a heavy price in loss of personal health and family members’ lives by resisting the vaccine, his was an act of betrayal. And it wasn’t the first. The MAGAs and fascist thugs who stormed the Capitol a year ago, are claiming that Trump turned his back on them.
DeSantis in his State of the State speech Tuesday made it clear exactly how he would position himself in a 2024 race: Trumpism without all of the antics, lies and distractions that the former President creates. The promise is that he will fight the Washington swamp, the "fake news" and those who would make America less free, he will just do it without all of the tweets and the chaos that Trump creates.
I doubt that DeSantis can pull it off unless Trump decided not to run again. But then, I didn’t give Trump much of a chance six years ago.
Of course, Democrats have their own divisions to consider. Now I hear that the two parties may be cooking up a trade — Liz Cheney for Joe Manchin — before the NBA trade deadline. It’s hard to say who will get the worst of that deal.
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