DeSantis Goes on Tour: MAGA 2.0 on Collision Course with Trump

Long before Trump became acutely aware of impending criminal complications, Trump knew for a fact that Ron DeSantis wasn’t kissing the ring and taking himself out of any primary run in 2024; indeed, it drove “Trump World” mad. So imagine how Trump World will react when DeSantis goes on a “primary-like” summer tour?

DeSantis is up for reelection in November, and although he is favored in his race against either Charlie Christ or Nikki Fried, Florida is still rather purplish. And there are no guarantees in a post-Roe, possible criminal MAGA world. Yet DeSantis can find time for a five-day tour of states that cannot vote for him… yet? Yes. According to the Guardian:

The trek, taking in Arizona, New Mexico, Ohio and Pennsylvania is nominally aimed at boosting Republicans’ chances ahead of November’s crucial primaries. For DeSantis, however, there is surely a grander design. Each of the rising Republican star’s destinations is a swing state, key to winning the 2024 presidential election.

If anything, a Ron DeSantis nomination should send shivers down Democrats’ spines. DeSantis has successfully turned Florida into what the GOP and Trump wanted in the federal government, an authoritarian state controlled by one man. Florida’s legislature is fully roped by DeSantis, and its politically active and compliant supreme court rules his way in every case. Additionally, DeSantis likes using that dictatorial control to put people the “wrong people” in their place.

Moreover, with respect to his personality, DeSantis is very good at playing the “loveable doofus” – kinda like Trump in MAGA land – but the man is actually a genius, with Ivy league undergraduate and law degrees. To top it off, DeSantis quite obviously loves his wife. They make an effective team with a good family that is highly photogenic, which is a huge asset to his voters.  He is dangerous as MAGA 2.0, bolder, more effective, felony free.

But he has to be careful, and this is where that intelligence and teamwork come in:

 “The Florida governor – who must walk the tightrope of being both ally and rival of Trump – is hotly tipped to run for president, and this outwardly benevolent campaigning trip will further swell his profile,” before adding, “Trump was key to getting DeSantis, who has been dubbed a ‘mini-Trump’, elected governor in 2018, but bad blood between the pair – particularly from Trump’s side – has been brewing for some time.”

Ali and Frazier, circling each other. Of course, one man may be waived out of the fight with an uncontrollable cut.

Vanity Fair reported in July 2021 that Trump and DeSantis were on a “collision course”. That June, DeSantis beat Trump in a conservative poll of candidates’ approval ratings, albeit by less than 3%. DeSantis’s popularity was soaring, and his one-time benefactor was upset. “Trump fucking hates DeSantis. He just resents his popularity,” a Trump confidant told Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman.

Just like Trump must be the center of attention, he must be the leader in control. Trump would hate anyone with rising popularity.

DeSantis built that popularity by floating out almost meaningless red meat social issues. The “Don’t Say Gay” bill impacted grades K-3, where it would have minimal impact. Was it nice to our LGBTQ+ family? No. But it was nothing more than bait for liberal outrage because there are far more important issues both in Florida and nationally that, if Democrats use the issues correctly, would ensure that people like DeSantis aren’t in a position to put such programs in place. DeSantis is going to effectively throw out more and more outrageous bait as social issues, some worth fighting, some not. Democrats can stop DeSantis in the same way they stopped Trump, attacking DeSantis’s need for control, iron-fisted fascism, the threat to all civil rights, his bizarre financial priorities, and corruption in rewarding his friends.

The collision course could heat up in the short term. Trump has blown a tire and will likely declare far earlier, perhaps any week now. There will be immense pressure on DeSantis to fall in line. DeSantis can deftly avoid all head-to-head issues for now by focusing on his own race. Unlike Trump, DeSantis has the intelligence, discipline, and sophistication to dodge a fight by keeping his head down when needed.

But, yes. Absent a Trump indictment (very possible, now), and perhaps even with an indictment, Trump and DeSantis will collide. When it happens, DeSantis might have more momentum, and Newton says that energy is conserved. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If DeSantis has that needed momentum, it will send Trump flying backward.