Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is eager for opportunities to gain some traction against former President Donald Trump, the clear-cut favorite to win the Republican nomination for 2024.
DeSantis is considered one of the three candidates with a reasonable potential to win the 2024 election, albeit, DeSantis is a long-shot relative to the other two (Biden and Trump).
Accordingly, DeSantis needs to do something to change the narrative, change the polls, because the status quo, or just staying the course, isn’t going to get DeSantis where he wants to go.
Typically, candidates in DeSantis’s position – on the outside looking in, but maybe within striking range – often look to presidential debates as an opportunity to exert some influence on the outcome, break up the standard.
Could the first GOP primary debate, scheduled for August 23rd in Chicago be such a moment for DeSantis?
Don’t count on it. Trump hasn’t even confirmed he will attend. And even if Trump does attend, his success isn’t predicated on debate performance, or articulation, or smarts.
Ron DeSantis Tactics
To be fair, DeSantis has an “active” style. He goes out and he makes headlines. That’s, in part, how he became such a prominent national figure.
It’s also how he fumbled and landed himself in hot water and lost ground in the primary. DeSantis swings big, and sometimes he connects, and sometimes he whiffs.
With Disney for example, a weirdly tangential and seemingly personal vendetta against one of the most influential corporations in the world, DeSantis has bitten off more than he can chew, inviting criticism from fellow Republicans in the process.
DeSantis will likely continue probing for opportunities to inject himself into the national conversation, to make headlines – doing so seems to be in his nature.
And now, when DeSantis probes around for a headline making opportunity, it will be expressly for the purpose of gaining ground in the GOP primary, where Trump holds a sizeable lead.
Ron DeSantis would be mistaken if he expects debating Trump will be the opportunity to really shine.
First of all, Trump hasn’t even confirmed he will attend the debate, as he, as a former president, deems such things as GOP primaries beneath him. Second, even if Trump does attend, that doesn’t necessarily favor DeSantis. Yes, DeSantis is more articulate, more educated, probably conventionally smarter, more photogenic.
But Trump isn’t going to meet DeSantis on a plane where any of that matters. Trump is going to rant and rave about whatever he wants to rant and rave about. And then, for good measure, when he feels like it, he will dismiss DeSantis off-hand with the most perfectly dismissive and belittling nickname.
Like calling Ron ‘Rob,’ or referring to the governor as DeSanctimonious, or some illusion to the governor’s short stature.
Remember 2016? Remember how much more knowledgeable and articulate and intellectual Hillary Clinton was relative to Trump? It didn’t matter then, either. Trump called her ‘nasty,’ Trump called her ‘crooked,’ and that was kind of that.
It’s like debating a child about his bedtime, you’re not going to win with some reasoned argument about immigration policy. So, I’m not optimistic about Ron DeSantis’s chances of turning the tide in the election during a debate with Trump.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor opinion writer 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.