I don’t recall exactly when I suggested it, but sometime earlier this year I put forward the forward-thinking possibility of Republicans opting for a Donald Trump/Ron DeSantis 2024
ticket – but with DeSantis as the headliner and Trump playing the supporting role as vice president nominee.
To say that I received a heavy dose of ridicule for the notion – made at least partially tongue-in-cheek, mind you – would be an understatement. Up until a couple weeks ago, Trump looked to be sitting pretty in the not-yet-commenced race for the next Republican presidential nomination and any intimation that challengers would get far against him were swatted back at me like a Serena Williams forehand in the tennis legend’s prime.
I was earnestly reminded that the MAGA movement was Trump’s to do as he pleased and also of the fact he’d been cheated out of his second term by the vote counting fiasco in the aftermath of the 2020 election. I was also warned that DeSantis was young, unproven on the national scene and couldn’t necessarily be trusted to bring along the “forgotten Americans” Trump base that the New Yorker alone roused to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Yes, and the same would be true for any Republican candidate not named “Donald Trump”, unless you brought 2016 runner-up Ted Cruz into the conversation, but the Texas senator probably wouldn’t be on the short-list of realistic potential Trump foes in two years. Cruz is still the same boat-rocker/anti-ruling class flamethrower he was six years ago, though conservatives have seen what the establishment media did to Trump — would Cruz even survive to election day?
That was then, this is now, and the 2022 midterm election results are still burning in the back of everyone’s mind. Those of us who predicted a “sure thing” red wave or tsunami are just drying off from a couple weeks’ worth of cold showers attempting to sponge away the egg from our faces. The sting will last quite a long time – especially if Herschel Walker loses to the awful corrupted Pastor Rafael Warnock in Georgia on December 6 – and the pain forces us to look at the future with a cynical gaze.
Donald Trump’s formal announcement of his run almost a week ago hasn’t changed this stunned feeling a whole lot. Conservatives are more anxious than ever, worried that another Trump campaign tour will only bring problems in selling the entirety of the GOP’s candidate slate again. Republicans haven’t quite gone retro to the pre-Trump days of John McCain and Mitt Romney, however. But Ron DeSantis is looking more and more like the new frontrunner in 2024.
Betting odds back up the assertion. In a report titled “Trump’s 2024 odds in free fall; Biden and DeSantis would beat him”, Paul Bedard reported on a recent national 2024 phenomenon at the Washington Examiner. It’s not good news for the Trump team:
“The betting site Bookmakers.com told Secrets … that gamblers have shifted money to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Joe Biden as they seek a sure thing. Bookmakers.com spokesman Darren Hughes told us, ‘The election may be two years away yet, but there is no doubt that Donald Trump’s pull in the Republican Party has weakened greatly in the last eight days. Many of Trump’s closest allies saw their election bids fail miserably, as the 45th president’s blessing is still seen as toxic in many areas of the U.S.’
“[Before the midterm elections], Trump was the odds-on favorite to win. No more. DeSantis is first followed by Biden then Trump… ‘Biden had been largely assumed to be a single-term president, as his approval ratings were at near historic lows for such a young presidency. Last week’s showing suggests that there may be fight in the old dog yet, and could be seen as a mandate for a reelection bid in 2024. Indeed, he is now seen as more likely than Trump to prove victorious in two years’ time,’ said Hughes.
“The site has Trump as the top vice presidential pick, presumably on a DeSantis/Trump ticket.”
Nothing like trusting a gambler – or even better, hundreds or thousands of gamblers — to pick a political candidate winner. It should be noted the same or similar wagerers didn’t do very well in sizing up this year’s midterm outcomes. I don’t have the exact figures, but the only thing they got right was the Republicans’ booting of Nancy Pelosi’s behind from the Speaker’s chair.
That image would normally be cause for celebration, but conservatives wanted more this time. Much more.
Still, if the old saying goes, “Put your money where your mouth is”, then it’s not completely insignificant that people are willing to back up their prognostications with treasure. And if the smart money has now shifted to Ron DeSantis, it wouldn’t be wise to dismiss the action as the whim of the moment. It shouldn’t be forgotten that the Florida Governor was one of the few Republicans on Election Night who flashed a beaming smile, and the presentation of him on stage with his beautiful wife and young children was unforgettable to a lot of folks.
Those youngins’ will be a couple years older on Election Night 2024, but who’s to say DeSantis wouldn’t be so popular that he would sweep the big states early and be declared the winner before midnight EST? It could happen, though obviously some states – I’m looking at you, Arizona and Nevada (among others) – would need to get their acts together first – and pretty soon.
It should also be pointed out that DeSantis was the one who got to speak first on Election Night. With his thorough trouncing of political prostitute loser Charlie Crist, the contest was called very early on. Viewers in the east got to see Ron speak before most of the booze was consumed at the various parties, so the Floridian’s exposure was maximized.
And it’s not just that DeSantis was a highly visible winner among a sea of “too close to call” negativity over the course of the evening, it was what the sunny reelected governor said that made him stand out even further. “Florida is where ‘woke’ goes to die!” the man proclaimed as his stirred up crowd went wild. Basically, everything DeSantis said was true and verifiable, too, not just a bunch of “we won one for the people” type hyperbole that’s so common during acceptance addresses.
Contrast DeSantis’s triumphant oration to the rather subdued (for him at least) Trump 2024 announcement speech last Tuesday night. It was reported that organizers had to prevent people from leaving while Trump was still speaking. Granted Trump had a much tougher task than DeSantis – rousing people a week after a crushing disappointment – but the mood just wasn’t there. At least Trump didn’t make the mistake of trying to fool a stadium full of people this time. That would’ve been a disaster.
Beyond the optics, why would speculators now consider DeSantis the favorite and Trump the underdog (even to a loser like Joe Biden)? Political momentum sways with the breeze, and DeSantis will have to prove himself if (let’s remember he hasn’t even indicated whether he’s running) and when the primary debates roll around, but if you were tasked with choosing a favorite right now, who would you select?
At the same time, it’s hard to understand how Joe Biden’s fortunes have improved so much in a relatively short amount of time. Buried under all the Democrat revelry in the past two weeks is the fact Democrats still lost control of the House of Representatives and are barely hanging on to a 50-49 “majority” in Chucky Schumer’s senate. Democrats can celebrate a lesser shellacking if they wish, but they still lost — and come early January, they’re looking at Republicans making the lower chamber’s rules and also organizing well-warranted investigations into everything evil from the past two-plus years.
By the time summer rolls around next year, here’s guessing Biden’s betting odds won’t look so stellar. Sure, his chances of surviving long enough to run for reelection improved by leaps and bounds thanks to some lucky ballot bounces here and there, but beneath the surface, senile Joe is the same broken-down memory-challenged dolt he’s always been. And after having gotten rid of one 82-year-old Democrat leader (Nancy Pelosi) after this Congress concludes, are ends-oriented leftist voters preparing to automatically rubber stamp the presidential candidacy of another visibly failing octogenarian?
The debate will rage on and on. Republicans who are pondering running against Trump will need to toss their hats into the ring early in 2024 lest they cede too big of a fundraising and public relations advantage to Trump. Either that, or they’ll “bet” that the 45th president will keep committing mistake after mistake which will make their own candidacies look better by default.
And then there’s the looming possible indictment hovering over Trump’s effort. If Joe Biden’s DOJ goes through with formally charging Trump, it might actually help him lock up his grassroots supporters’ backing, but it would also provide an opening – and a slew of good arguments – for his opponents to claim that Trump is toxic and not electable in this highly divided political environment.
We’ll see. But would Trump really consider taking his name out of consideration for the top spot and accept a lesser role as water carrier for Ron DeSantis? It shouldn’t be forgotten that Mike Pence has been making the rounds lately throwing cold water on the possibility of another Trump presidency. The veep slot isn’t very glamorous to begin with, which would definitely work against Trump agreeing to “take one for the team” and throw his weight behind someone else’s candidacy.
Donald Trump will have a much more difficult time selling himself as a political outsider than he did in 2016, or even in 2020. That’s not to say a Trump re-branding can’t be done, but the odds of him being able to handle all the controversy in addition to needing to portray himself as new and improved are long indeed. It’s early to bank on anything happening, but it won’t be boring.
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