DeSantis Accuses Trump Of ‘Mailing In’ Campaign
Confident and relatively unscathed through two debates, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis looked and acted like former President Trump’s leading challenger for the Republican nomination. All that is missing now is the frontrunner himself.
Trump skipped the first two debates, and his campaign announced that he will be a no-show at a third, prompting DeSantis to accuse Trump of being “missing in action” and, perhaps even worse in the eyes of Republicans, of following the example of President Biden.
“With all due respect to Donald Trump,” DeSantis told Maria Bartiromo on Fox News last Sunday, “we’re not going to beat the Democrats by adopting Joe Biden’s basement strategy.”
The governor was deliberately refurbishing one of Trump’s favorite attacks, namely that Biden hid from voters and the press during the pandemic, setting up shop in his basement rather than stepping into the spotlight for scrutiny. “I got a guy who stays in his damn basement all day long,” the former president lamented in front of a brimming Virginia crowd in September 2020, “and I’m doing this.”
While the rallies remain a staple, Trump is now the one who will not meet his critics or rebut their criticism “mano a mano,” leaving the DeSantis campaign with the distinct impression that the former president might not be the same debate brawler who so easily bullied the last GOP field. They think he may have lost a step. They clearly hope to prod him into a showdown. Mostly, though, they say voters deserve to hear Trump defend his record directly.
“Whether Donald Trump getting on the stage ends up being good electorally for him or it hurts him in places like Iowa and New Hampshire is kind of irrelevant,” David Polyansky, DeSantis’ deputy campaign manager, told RealClearPolitics. “The larger issue is that every candidate should be held accountable.”
The Trump campaign responded by noting that the Republican frontrunner leads DeSantis in both national and early primary state polling and saying that the former president “is barnstorming the country” while the Florida governor has not visited Iowa in “more than two weeks.”
“He used to be Tiny D, and now DeSanctus [sic] is Micro D. His campaign is going nowhere, as everyone thinks sweater vests with your name on them suck,” senior Trump advisor Jason Miller told RCP in an apparent reference to the sartorial choices of the governor which include name-brand merch.
DeSantis has sharpened his attacks on Trump in recent weeks, reminding a conservative electorate of promises made and promises not kept. Trump may have given an opening when he seemed to admit that his lofty 2016 rhetoric about “Mexico paying for the wall” was never realistic.
“Well, there was no legal mechanism,” Trump told an Iowa crowd, recalling how “I said they are going to fund this wall” before musing, “How do you go to a country and say, ‘by the way, I’m building a wall, hand us a lot of money.’”
DeSantis quickly countered that there was a way to force the southern neighbor to fund the border security of the United States. “Impose fees on remittances sent to Mexico (and other countries) by illegal aliens,” the governor wrote on Twitter, promising that he would do exactly that if elected. “No more bluster,” he added. “Results are all that matter!”
The Trump campaign has swatted away much of that criticism as if it were little more than an annoyance, and while Trump himself once joked that he would watch the debates to scout for a running mate, he now calls on the Republican National Committee to cancel the contests altogether. His senior advisors, Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles, released a statement late Monday urging the RNC to do as much “in order to refocus its manpower and money on preventing Democrats’ efforts to steal the 2024 election.”
The electorate hasn’t balked at Trump’s unwillingness to debate yet, and with each indictment and arraignment, his standings in the polls have improved. He now leads DeSantis and the rest of the field in the RealClearPolitics Average by more than 40 points,despite never having stepped on a debate stage with any one of them.
Trump has traveled from California to Iowa in recent weeks, and on Monday the former president chose to attend the civil fraud trial against him in New York, even though he was not required to be there in person. A senior DeSantis campaign aide told RCP that Trump was “using the courtroom as a campaign stop.”
Building out the comparison to Biden, who seldom opens his campaign stops up to questions from voters, the DeSantis campaign insisted that the Trump show had grown stale. Crowds listen to the same old “prepackaged” stories from his time in the White House, a DeSantis aide said, as the former president sends “smoke signals” about what he would do with a second term, rather than “answering questions about his record or facing challenges about where he stands today.”
The Biden campaign, meanwhile, prepares to meet a new Trump candidacy the way they defeated the old one. The previous strategy included painting Trump as a chaotic extremist unfit for the presidency. The playbook has been updated to cast Trump as a threat to democracy itself. Biden told ProPublica that he believes “Trump has concluded that he has to win” and that in 2024, MAGA Republicans “will pull out all the stops.”
This kind of criticism from the left is well known by now and little regarded by the right. To the chagrin of his challengers, Trump has not had to face a conservative critique, though. That is, at least not in person. Among other things, DeSantis has hammered the frontrunner for following the advice of Dr. Anthony Fauci during the pandemic and for running up the national debt for four years.
The governor now urges voters not to take a second chance on Trump, arguing that he is unlikely to defeat Biden and that he would be unable to meet the existential challenges the nation faces. If the former president disputes that, DeSantis seems to say, then he is welcome to defend himself on a debate stage. In fact, the DeSantis campaign says, voters deserve nothing less.
“This isn’t something you mail in. This isn’t something you just get. You have to earn our party’s nomination,” Polyansky told RCP. “And if you can’t, or you are unable or unwilling, there’s no way we’re going to win in 2024, and everything we hope to accomplish, not just as a party, but for the country, is defeated. That’s why this is so important.”
Wed, 10/04/2023 – 11:25
via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/oBTn5MX Tyler Durden