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The South Asian Insider

Ron DeSantis is flaming out – and Trump is on course for a Republican coronation

The Ron DeSantis boomlet is done. He consistently trails Donald Trump by double-digits. A Wall Street Journal poll out Friday pegs Florida’s governor in severe retrograde, slipping 27 points since December. DeSantis mistakenly conflates his campaign’s bulging war chest with adulation. Wrong!
He forgot that working-class Americans dominate the Republican party and that mien matters. Voting to gut social security comes with fatal backlash, and eating pudding with your fingers is gross. Said differently, largesse from the party’s donor base coupled with little else is a losing recipe.
Charles Koch has but a single vote and David Koch is gone. Before he goes any further, DeSantis needs to be reminded of past campaign flame-outs – Jeb Bush, John Connally and Mike Bloomberg – if he is to avoid their inglorious endings.In 2016, Trump bludgeoned Bush to an early primary exit. His name recognition bought a ton of campaign donations but little else. A son and brother to presidents and a grandson to a US senator, Bush left the race with a grand total of four convention delegates and zero primary victories.
He sat in the Florida governor’s mansion between 1999 and 2007. The gig doesn’t scream springboard.
Connally is another cautionary tale. Lee Harvey Oswald seriously wounded him as he was riding with President Kennedy that fateful November day in Dallas. Fast forward, Ronald Reagan left Connally in the dust in 1980.
The jut-jawed former Texas governor garnered just a single convention delegate after parting with $500,000 from his own pockets and nearly $12m from everyone else’s.And then there’s Mayor Bloomberg. He dropped $900m of his own money, netted 58 delegates and a lone victory – American Samoa. As a coda, he tussled with campaign staff over unpaid wages.
If primaries were held tomorrow, DeSantis would probably suffer beatings in New Hampshire, Georgia and South Carolina, and lags in Florida. And if he can’t win in the Sunshine state, he is not likely to win anywhere else.
Home-state losses are fatal. Just ask Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. Joe Biden resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Warren and Klobuchar continue to toil in the Senate.Don’t expect DeSantis to regain traction any time soon. He has not benefited from Trump’s legal woes. DeSantis also remains plagued by a likability deficit, and his war on “woke” is beginning to bite him.
When news broke in March of Trump’s indictment, DeSantis reflexively rushed to his defense. In the moment, he accused Alvin Bragg, Manhattan’s district attorney, of pushing an “un-American” political “agenda”. DeSantis also stood ready to fight Trump’s extradition to New York, a meaningless gesture. Trump voluntarily surrendered days later.
Subsequently, DeSantis took a swipe at Trump’s extracurricular hobbies, but it was too little, too late. Subtlety doesn’t work on Trump. To be the man, you need to beat the man.
This coming week, E Jean Carroll’s defamation and sexual assault civil case against Trump begins in a Manhattan courtroom. Trump is noncommittal about attending. Expect the infamous Access Hollywood tape to be re-aired. The circus is back.
Regardless, there is no indication that DeSantis will have much to say about any of that. Whether Casey DeSantis, his wife, offers any empathetic words for Ms Carroll or Melania Trump is also unknown. A former television broadcaster, Casey DeSantis knows how to wield a shiv with a smile, not a snarl.
On that score, DeSantis’s lack of social skills has cost him plenty. At Politico, the headline blares: “How to lose friends and alienate people, by Ron DeSantis.”
This past week, his gambit to woo Florida’s House Republicans flopped. He flew up to Washington only to be met by a passel of Trump endorsements.
“A great group of supportive Florida Congressmen and Congresswomen, all who have Endorsed me, will be coming to Mar-a-Lago,” the 45th president posted. “Our support is almost universal in Florida and throughout the USA.”
Trump takes the time to wine, dine and threaten. DeSantis can’t be bothered. Voters in early primary states expect to be stroked or entertained. The governor appears incapable of doing either.
Last, Disney is fighting back, to DeSantis’s chagrin and Trump’s delectation. To burnish his stock with social conservatives, DeSantis attempted to put the torch to one of his state’s biggest business and largest employers. By contrast, when Trump taunted the National Football League, he was playing with other people’s money.
Right now, Mickey, Minnie and Trump are winning. The path to the 2024 Republican nomination looks ever more like a coronation.
By Lloyd Green