The word “fight” in the title of this column is intentional – Ron DeSantis is walking into the Octagon alone in the first GOP primary debate. The deck is stacked against him. He’s in a half-dozen or so gunsights. It’s Ronbo against the world. He best be ready.
Let us assume that Donald Trump takes my advice and makes the smart strategic choice – because Trump is known for always making the smart strategic choice just like Hunter Biden is known for his sobriety – of not attending the debate.
DeSantis is the leader of the also-ran pack, the only conceivable rival to Trump at the moment, and he will be the guy each of the primary lilliputians is looking to take down by creating A Moment that will catapult them from also-also-ran to just also-ran.
This complicates things for the Florida governor. Everyone else on stage will have one target, him. Alligator Ron will have three.
His first target is his opponents onstage.
Ron has to demonstrate dominance over each of his rivals.
That’s easy with Mike Pence, who always gives up and gives in to the establishment. The one time he stood firm was in rejecting Trump’s kooky electoral thing, but just last week he went belly-up for the frame job the enemy has launched against his ex-boss. Pence is one of those cons who pretends that passivity in the face of communist enemies is morally superior to crushing them. He makes submission into a fetish, and if he was not so uptight, he’d probably have a regular dominatrix.
“Mike, the time of the soft Republican is over. You should retire, teach Sunday school, and build birdhouses.”
Nikki Haley is the poster girl for 2005 conservatism, and DeSantis will need to dismiss her agenda of a return to the tired old GOP combo of wars n’ tax cuts for corporations that want to turn our kids trans. She’s all in on something-something Ukraine/Putin bad, that establishment mish-mash of cliches and fuzzy fake-tuff pseudo-thinking that substitutes for an actual national strategy that supports American interests. Nukey Nikki is all in for another Afghanistan, except with borscht, and you know that if her crew ever gets the wheel we’ll eventually be seeing CH47s lifting off from the Kyiv embassy roof. But then someone who was on the Boeing board is probably A-OK with dumping billions into the bloody Slavic blender with no articulated strategy for success. Yet she won’t fight at home. When Disney decided to pervertize our kids, Nikki sided with Disney because corporations are always right and the job of Americans is to obey.
“Nikki, I’ve been to war and if the voters choose me they will know with absolute certainty that their sons and daughters will never die in another useless one, and that I will use every bit of my power as president to fight back against big corporations that want to impose their San Francisco values on normal families.”
Tim Scott is no threat. His argument is “I have a neat origin story” and “I am nice.” But what has he ever actually done? The biggest thing he did as a senator was failing to pass his Defund the Police Lite bill. Oh, and he echoes bogus Democrat race-baiting.
“Tim, I first had my doubts about you when you supported the Democrat defund the police movement, but I really lost respect for you when you decided to repeat what you knew were Democrat and regime media lies about Florida history standards. Our voters do not need a candidate who joins with Kamala Harris to tell the lie that Republicans like slavery.”
Then there’s Chris Christie, whose only rational reason for being in this debate is to get access to the green room’s snack table. Christie will go after DeSantis because, deep down – and you can get very deep in Christie – he is trying to win back the love of Donald Trump. Sadly, we all have to endure this spurned platonic lover psychodrama. But his failure as a governor disqualifies him just as much as his refusal to take our side in the cultural war fight. Christie is a has-been who is more accurately described as a “never was.”
“Chris, your own state knew you best and when you finally left under a cloud of scandal you were polling on par with chlamydia. All you have is complaints about more successful Republicans, but I noticed that you don’t seem to have a problem with Biden. Just sign your MSNBC contract and get out of the way of those of us who know how to win.”
Optionally, DeSantis can refer to him as “Garden State Lizzo.”
Vivek Ramaswamy is an interesting cat with some good ideas and some really poorly-thought out ones. His whole “China, you can have Taiwan after 2028” initiative is, well, innovative. He’s clearly running for Secretary of Keeping It Real or a similar sinecure in a future Trump administration. He is also about 12 years old.
“Vivek, you’re a smart guy with no experience but a bright future once you learn how the world works. Go do a hitch in the Marines, kid, then maybe at least win a city council election and get a little salty before you try for the White House. America does not need a president who never watched ‘The Brady Bunch” after school on a UHF station or made a call on a rotary phone.”
Doug Burgum, the governor of East Dakota or something, is another sensible n’ sober, Republican pol who would be just fine if this was 1996 and our biggest problem was a priapic president. He’s not a bad guy, but there’s no crying need for another generic milquetoast zillionaire trying to buy his way into the White House.
“Doug, I turned a purple state deep red. You kept a deep red state deep red. That’s fine, I guess, but the last time we nominated a soft rich guy he got punked live on TV by Candy Crowley.”
Ron’s second target is Joe Biden
Biden often seems forgotten in all the online battling about the primary. Once DeSantis disposes of his competition on stage, he should press his real selling point, which is that he stands the best chance of beating the desiccated old pervert in the White House.
“I turned a purple state deep red. My competitors have never done that. Nikki, Tim, Doug, and Mike all come from safe red states. Chris tried to turn blue New Jersey red and failed hard. Vivek has never even run in an election before, much less won one. And the Dems agree that I am the threat to Joe Biden stumbling his way to another term – the Dems are not spending their money to beat my opponents. They are spending money to make sure I am not on the GOP ticket because I am the only Republican they are afraid of.”
And Ron’s last target must be Donald Trump.
He has to make the case about why he is the better choice. On policy, both are similar enough that it’s not clear how much traction RDS would get pointing out that DJT screwed up COVID by hugging Fauci, failed to fire Wray, and so forth. On balance, America under Trump was a mere million times better than under the corrupt President Daddyshowers. The real case for Ron DeSantis is that he can win the general and Trump can’t. He should proceed under the assumption that most Republicans want to actually win, instead of wallowing in glorious defeat, and that Republican moderates who despise Biden but actively hate Trump for his mean tweets will come home if someone who is not orange is on the GOP ticket.
“Maybe it’s not right or fair or rational, but about 53% of Americans will never vote for Trump. That’s the reality. If we put him on the ticket, we lose. You’re not making a statement by nominating a certain loser. You’re making the Democrats’ day. They are begging you to nominate Donald Trump. Ask yourself why. If you do, say good-bye to the Supreme Court. To your right to keep and bear arms. To free speech. To the right to practice your faith as you see fit. Say hello to more trans tyranny. To more climate hoax insanity that will have you losing your gas-powered car and eating bugs. To more wars. To more taxes. To more crime, and to more chaos. If you want to send a message to Washington, win. Winning is the message. And I have never lost a race and never will.”
I like Ron DeSantis, but there are no freebies in politics. He’s got to win this all on his own, one man against everyone there on-stage with him and off-stage Truthing at him. The stakes could not be higher.
It’s go time.
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Follow Kurt on Twitter @KurtSchlichter. Get Inferno, the seventh book in the Kelly Turnbull People’s Republic series of conservative action novels set in America after a notional national divorce, as well as his non-fiction book We’ll Be Back: The Fall and Rise of America.