Ever since the DOJ indicted the Oath Keepers leaders six months ago, flipped one of them against Trump world, and promptly launched a January 6th grand jury targeting Trump world, it’s been fairly clear that the DOJ was at least aiming for Donald Trump. This week’s public testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson revealed that the DOJ has a clearer path to indicting and convicting Trump than had been previously known. Now it turns out it’s not just anti-Trump people who are rooting for Trump’s indictment.
People around Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are now telling Politico that DeSantis is rooting for the DOJ to criminally indict Donald Trump, because it’ll help remove Trump from the 2024 arena. Of course the Politico article then goes on to insist that DeSantis is on some kind of glide path to reelection in Florida in 2022, and that he’s now some kind of favorite in 2024. Given that the article is so heavily written from DeSantis’ point of view, it suggests that he made a point of getting the media to write the story about him rooting for Trump to be indicted.
We all know DeSantis wants to run for President in 2024, and we all know that he’d need Trump out of the way to do it. So why does this reporting matter? For one thing, DeSantis now appears to believe there’s a good chance the DOJ will indict Trump. Further, if DeSantis is the impetus for this reporting, it would mean that he wants Trump to know that he’s rooting for him to be indicted, presumably to goad Trump into attacking him, so as to raise DeSantis’ profile.
This comes even as prominent conspiracy theorist Joe Rogan has come out in support of DeSantis, and some in the mainstream media are beginning to refer to DeSantis as the new de facto 2024 Republican frontrunner.
DeSantis probably thinks this kind of exposure is good for his 2024 ambitions. The one thing about Republican presidential candidates is that if they peak too early, they melt under the resulting scrutiny and come crashing down. This kind of scrutiny could even cost DeSantis in 2022.
The list of modern Republican presidential candidates who were hyped too early in the cycle by right wingers, then fell apart under the resulting media scrutiny, is a very long one: Rick Santorum, Nikki Haley, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson on and on. Once out front, they just melt.
Early on in the cycle, Republican presidential candidates have to pander solely to extremists – which is what DeSantis has been doing – and they hope the mainstream media ignores it. But once the media names them a frontrunner, their extremist pandering becomes mainstream media news, and hurts them with less extremist primary voters.
Trump was unique in that he knew how to manipulate the mainstream media into doing his bidding at any given point in the election cycle. But DeSantis has shown that he has no such skills at all. Whenever he runs his mouth, his approval rating numbers go down, not up.
If DeSantis had any sense, he’d be trying to lie as low as possible right now, and ask his allies to stop hyping him for 2024, in the hope that he can quietly get reelected in 2022 and then roll out his 2024 plans much later. But as DeSantis keeps showing us, he has absolutely no political savvy.
It’s one thing for DeSantis to privately root for the DOJ to indict Trump; this would obviously be to DeSantis’ benefit. But DeSantis seemingly making a point of openly rooting for Trump’s indictment is just weird. To win the Republican nomination in 2024, DeSantis would need at least some die hard Trump supporters to switch over to him. If Trump goes to prison, and Trump’s supporters end up seeing DeSantis as someone who rooted for Trump to go to prison, it may be harder for DeSantis to win their votes. But if DeSantis wants a war with Trump right now, he’s going to get one – and it won’t help either one of them.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report