ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Cal Thomas: Ron DeSantis for president?

From the commentary: Not only must DeSantis effectively introduce himself in these and other states, he must overcome former president Donald Trump's large lead in the polls.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis attends the Florida Family Policy Council Annual Dinner Gala, in Orlando
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis gestures as he speaks during the Florida Family Policy Council Annual Dinner Gala, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., May 20, 2023.
MARCO BELLO/REUTERS

The expected announcement this week from Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis that he is running for president will come as no surprise. While DeSantis won his re-election by 19 points and his accomplishments with the help of a Republican super majority in the state legislature have been impressive, appealing to voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina β€” the early primary states β€” is another matter.

Cal Thomas commentary
Cal Thomas Commentary
Tribune graphic
Summary: I once heard the late evangelist Rev. Billy Graham say America was not at a crossroads, but had traveled down the wrong road and needed to come back to the crossroads and take the right road. What if we can no longer agree on the right road and where the wrong road is leading us?
Summary: Donald Trump would do well to withdraw from the field and allow younger and less controversial candidates to replace him. His record of policy successes while president are undeniable (except for those in denial), but his narcissistic personality contributed to his loss. It is also contributing to the work of the January 6 committee. If that committee wishes to "bring us together," it will forgo recommendations of criminal prosecution and let voters decide, as they should and ultimately will, the future of Donald Trump.
Summary: When rhetoric gets heated, perhaps the best way to be heard is to speak in a tone Scripture attributes to God β€” "a still, small voice." As noted by the writer of Proverbs: "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
Summary: Many viewers might want to know why Congress can't seem to fix any of the country's real problems. That perennial question is why increasing numbers of Americans have grown sour about Washington. They see members of Congress more interested in re-election, in their careers and in perks than in the people they are supposed to represent.

Not only must DeSantis effectively introduce himself in these and other states, he must overcome former president Donald Trump's large lead in the polls. The Real Clear Politics average of polls shows GOP voters favoring Trump 36.1 percent to just 19.9 percent for DeSantis.

Writing in The Washington Post, conservative columnist Ramesh Ponnuru says: "To convince Republican voters that Trump is a loser would thus require getting them to believe that the same argument everyone made (in 2016 that he was unelectable) and saw blow up in their faces is right this time. For many conservatives, Trump's 2016 victory reinforced the idea that "electability" is a ploy used by the media and squishy Republicans to discredit candidates who are willing to fight for them."

If DeSantis can withstand Trump's attacks β€” pro-Trump PACs are already running ads saying as a congressman DeSantis tried to cut Social Security and Medicare (in fact he proposed, but didn't vote for β€” raising the retirement age to 70 to help preserve Social Security) β€” he must convince Trump voters he can finish the job Trump started without the chaos that accompanies the former president.

How to do this? One way would be for DeSantis to follow the example of then-Texas Governor George W. Bush. After announcing in 1999 he would run for president, Bush invited experts in the field of foreign and domestic policy to come to Austin and school him in the things he believed he needed to know. This conveyed to voters he was a serious candidate and should not be judged solely as his father's son.

ADVERTISEMENT

I doubt any credible advisers would do the same for Donald Trump, much less work for him given the chaos surrounding his one term in office. Does anyone except his most ardent supporters think Trump should be left to his own devices without the advice and restraint from experienced advisers?

Second, DeSantis needs to up his game when it comes to communicating with people. I hate to use myself as an example, but I have tried for two years to get an interview with him and have been ignored by his communications office. They appear to be controlling his access to the media, preferring mostly the friendly atmosphere of Fox News. He needs to change that and face the predictable (for a Republican) hostile and biased questions from the national media to show he is more than a fighter (the reason many pro-Trump voters say they support him regardless of his numerous character flaws). If I am not alone in this complaint, DeSantis has a problem.

Third, DeSantis must figure out a way to respond to Trump's name-calling and other attacks without descending to his level. If he gets in the mud with Trump he will not come out clean.

More Commentary:
From the commentary: Perhaps it was because her story was increasingly looking like 100% baloney. Perhaps it was all the lies popping out of her biography. Perhaps it was her gushing over the magnificent virility of Vladimir Putin, his love of animals, his gentleness combined with strength.
From the commentary: The president will need to help steer a new centrist legislative agenda, but ultimately it is Congress that will be the driving force of this transformation because Congress, not the president, makes laws.
From the commentary: People like me who rationalized that a vote for Trump was a vote for his policies and not his corrosive personality made the political equivalent of a bargain with the Devil. ... As did so many others, I bought into the view that Trump was better than the Democratic alternatives.

Finally, DeSantis must articulate a vision for the future. While Trump continues to wrongly obsess about the last election being "stolen" from him, DeSantis can say we should leave that behind and focus on tomorrow.

While Floridians know him well, the rest of the nation is just being introduced to him. As Will Rogers said, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression."

This Cal Thomas commentary is his opinion. He can be reached at cthomas@wctrib.com.

Commentary logo
Commentary logo
Tribune graphic

What To Read Next
Get Local

ADVERTISEMENT