Joe Battenfeld: Ron DeSantis 2024 campaign looks over before it’s even started

From the commentary: DeSantis hasn’t been impressive on the stump. His rather wooden delivery is a stark contrast to Trump’s bombast.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Unite and Win Rally in support of Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano at the Wyndham Hotel on Aug. 19, 2022, in Pittsburgh.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Unite and Win Rally in support of Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano at the Wyndham Hotel on Aug. 19, 2022, in Pittsburgh.
Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/TNS

Ron DeSantis can’t even beat Mickey Mouse. How is he possibly going to beat Donald Trump?

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.
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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.

In the battle between Disney and DeSantis in Florida, Mickey wins.

And as the Florida GOP governor takes on the Magic Kingdom, his hopes of a White House run — at least a successful one — look over.

DeSantis has peaked. And he hasn’t even announced yet.

Once touted as the conservative alternative to Trump, DeSantis is seeing his political dream collapsing.


Heavy-hitting donors are balking. Florida pols are backing The Donald. Insiders say that because of his lateness getting in the race he has no organization in early primary states like New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Trump — thanks to the arrow in his back from the grandstanding Manhattan DA — is actually expanding his lead and his campaign coffers.

The conservative Florida governor best known for booting migrants to Martha’s Vineyard and waging war on Mickey Mouse can’t get traction and in fact has seen his support collapse over the last few months.

DeSantis peaked months ago when he got attention for sending illegal immigrants to the monied Massachusetts island, but that was never more than just a stunt – much like his dispute with Disney.

The Florida governor can only watch helplessly as Trump racks up endorsements and fundraising – which have only increased since the former president’s indictment.

Just this week, six more Republican Congress members from the Sunshine State defected to Trump, exposing a glaring weakness in DeSantis’s home state. That makes a total of 10 members of Congress from Florida siding with Trump.

Just three Republican members of Congress nationwide have endorsed DeSantis.

In addition, a prominent GOP donor went public about his dissatisfaction with DeSantis, saying that the GOP governor’s “stance on abortion and book banning” is triggering other donors to stay away. Other Republican donors vented in a private chat obtained by Rolling Stone.


“What the (expletive) is wrong with RD?” one donor wrote in the group chat, complaining about DeSantis campaigning out of state while massive flooding ravaged south Florida.

DeSantis hasn’t been impressive on the stump. His rather wooden delivery is a stark contrast to Trump’s bombast. He has made gaffes, like calling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “territorial dispute.”

And the fights he has picked look petty. Does the average voter really care about Disney flying the rainbow flag? Is it going to stop people going to Disney? It’s a fringe issue. Disney is actually doubling down against DeSantis. For DeSantis to shut down Disney, it would be like Maura Healey trying to shut down the Patriots.

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And as far as the rest of the potential GOP candidates go, no one is seriously challenging Trump, though former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is trying hard.

Chris Christie seriously? The only thing he’s defeated is the buffet table at the Ramada Inn.

For Republicans, it’s Trump or bust.


Joe Battenfeld is a veteran Herald political columnist and multimedia reporter. This commentary is the columnist's opinion. Send feedback to:

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