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Trump Is Getting to Ready to Go ‘Full Battle Stations’ on Ron DeSantis

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

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has not formally declared his 2024 presidential candidacy yet – but that’s not preventing the opposition, namely former President Donald Trump, from preparing.

Apparently, the Trump campaign is locked and loaded with an “oppo dump” on DeSantis.

“Trump’s team and his allied PAC are preparing an expansive opposition research file by poring over DeSantis’ record as a prosecutor, member of Congress, and Florida governor,” POLITICO reported.

Trump declares war: What the oppo dump will look like

“Among the items a Trump-allied group has drilled into is DeSantis’ record while serving as an assistant U.S. Attorney before running for congressional office, with plans to accuse him of being an ‘extremely lenient prosecutor’ in cases involving, among other things, child pornography,” POLITICO reported.

I can’t speak to DeSantis’s record as a prosecutor. I’m going to venture a guess that he was not ‘extremely lenient.’ I will also point out that a lot of child pornography cases are not what the public imagines them to be. For example, if an 18-year-old has pictures of a 16-year-old on his phone, that could trigger child pornography charges.

I don’t know the specifics, but I suspect if DeSantis was ever ‘lenient’ with child pornographers it may have been an incident where the charges technically qualified as child pornography, but the fact pattern was not heinous in the way that child pornography cases are typically understood to be. But again, I have no idea what the specifics of DeSantis’s prosecutorial career look like.

Anyways, I’m not defending DeSantis, just pointing out that his record will likely be manipulated into an unflattering light – which is what happens when you run for president.

To counter the forthcoming Trump-world narrative that DeSantis was a lenient prosecutor, DeSantis-world will likely lean into DeSantis’s service as a Navy JAG. In the Navy, DeSantis was embedded with a SEAL team, and he was stationed at Guantanamo Bay.

Both the SEAL deployment and the Gitmo stationing can very easily be finessed into a ‘tough,’ ‘anti-lenient’ attorney background. Of course, the specifics of DeSantis’s service in the Navy, that is his legal analysis, could very well have trended towards ‘lenient.’

Maybe, for example, while DeSantis was legally advising that SEAL team, he counseled the SEALs out of military action more frequently than his colleagues. DeSantis could have been a lenient SEAL attorney. But once you say SEAL, the default assessment will be that DeSantis was a tough guy.

Whatever tact the DeSantis team takes, he can expect to have to weather a serious storm. As the most viable contender to Trump’s GOP crown, DeSantis will bear intense scrutiny from the former president and his base. But DeSantis doesn’t have to sit idly by. He can reciprocate.

How will DeSantis attack Trump?

For nearly a decade, Republicans have been hesitant to attack Trump. The risk was too high. Trump had a talent for ruining conservatives who attacked him. So, conservatives bent the knee and kissed the ring.

But if you’re going to dislodge Trump from the GOP ticket, you’re probably going to need to criticize his performance as a one-term president. Will DeSantis criticize Trump implicitly, like so many other meek conservatives?

Or will DeSantis denounce Trump explicitly, like former Vice President Mike Pence did earlier this week.

Whatever DeSantis decides – he’ll have plenty of oppo material to work with.

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Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.