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Could Donald Trump ‘Punch Himself Out’?

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.
Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.

History should teach us to stop saying, “Donald Trump really did it this time.”

But his most recent “Ron DeSanctimonious” attack was a little jarring. 

One day after a Club for Growth poll found Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with a 9-point lead over the 45th president among 2024 Republican primary voters, he jumped onto Truth Social.

He made unfounded claims about DeSantis’s time as a high school teacher two decades ago. 

“Here is Ron DeSantimonious grooming high school girls with alcohol as a teacher,” Trump posted with a vomit emoji. “That’s not Ron, is it? He would never do such a thing!”

It was a truly weird line of attack, and actually, one that Democrats in Florida and the Left attempted to pull off going back to 2018. 

Ron DeSantis Might Let Donald Trump Punch Himself Out? 

DeSantis, not yet a declared candidate, responded sort of invoking Ronald Reagan’s “11th commandment” about not attacking other Republicans

“I spend my time delivering results for the people of Florida and fighting against Joe Biden,” DeSantis said. “That’s how I spend my time. I don’t spend my time trying to smear other Republicans.”

This comes back to a point I previously made that DeSantis doesn’t have to directly attack Trump, but might be well served to allow the former president to punch himself out. 

The Polls, Again 

Clearly, DeSantis is getting under Trump’s skin.

I’m more than a little skeptical of the Club for Growth poll of such a sizable lead. Notably, that’s only if there is a one-on-one matchup, which we know won’t happen.

The same poll shows that in a field of seven candidates, Trump beats DeSantis 37 percent to 33 percent. That’s reflective of other polls. A Monmouth University poll last week showed DeSantis beating Trump 51 percent to 44 percent in a one-on-one contest, not the same spread as the Club for Growth found.

That could explain why Trump is acting like the candidate from the 2016 Republican primary who claimed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s father killed President John F. Kennedy and claimed more than a few other patently silly things about Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, and other candidates. 

And sure, it worked then. But this could be different since most Donald Trump fans like DeSantis. So, making outrageous claims might hurt him with his own base. 

Trump has said–probably correctly–that DeSantis likely would not have won the 2018 Republican primary for governor without Trump’s endorsement.

But if the worst of what Trump says today of DeSantis is true–what judgment did he show in endorsing him?

Donald Trump: Running Like 2016 Won’t Work 

More importantly, Trump didn’t have a record to run on when blasting Republican governors and senators in 2016. So, he had to show toughness. He was the outsider who had virtually the entire Republican establishment and conservative movement aligned against him, and he beat them all. 

This isn’t 2016. Today he’s more than a candidate, but a former president with a record to boast about.

As a former president, he should be making regular video messages about the failed presidency of Joe Biden. He could remind Americans when he was president; their 401Ks were not losing thousands of dollars. When he was president, the border was mostly secure.

He could talk about how violent crime was down during the Trump administration and is skyrocketing during the Biden administration. He could remind Americans thugs such as Russia and China were not threatening global stability when the United States had a strong president. 

Above all, former President Donald Trump could attack Biden and act like he’s already the Republican nominee and project a sense of inevitability. 

He could spend time talking about his favorite topic: What a great president Donald Trump was, and–at least by comparison to Biden–he’d be right. 

Still, there is the “let Trump be Trump” view, that he can’t help himself, he won’t change, so why try to stop him.

In that 2016 GOP primary, Trump broke the political rule about never punching down against candidates that trailed him in polls. But, for the most part, he was punching back when other candidates took their shots. 

Now, Donald Trump is not punching back, but he’s blindly wailing away at DeSantis in a fit of rage, and DeSantis seems unphased as if to say, “that’s adorable.” 

BONUS: The Fall of Joe Biden Has Started  

BONUS: Donald Trump Looks At His End 

BONUS: Kamala Harris Should Quit

Barbara Joanna Lucas is a writer and researcher in Northern Virginia. She has been a healthcare professional, political blogger, is a proud dog mom, and news junkie. Follow her on Twitter @BasiaJL.

Barbara Joanna Lucas is a writer and researcher in Northern Virginia. She has been a healthcare professional, political blogger, is a proud dog mom, and news junkie. Follow her on Twitter @BasiaJL.