Tuesday’s abysmal election results all but guaranteed a showdown between former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was one of the only Republican leaders to benefit from a red wave. To the surprise of absolutely no one, Trump isn’t handling it very well.
In a lengthy press release Thursday night, Trump blasted DeSantis as an “average Republican governor with great public relations” and took credit for DeSantis’s 2018 gubernatorial win, claiming DeSantis had “low approval, bad polls, and no money” before Trump came along and endorsed him.
Attacking DeSantis publicly in the first place was idiocy. He’s a very popular governor who managed to flip deep-blue counties on Tuesday, all but guaranteeing that Florida will be a red state for years, if not decades. And he has a tremendous record fighting for conservative policies despite establishment opposition.
But Trump being Trump couldn’t help himself. His inability to see past himself was always his biggest weakness in office, and it will continue to be the thing that destroys any good he still might be able to do for the GOP.
The most ridiculous part of Trump’s rebuke of DeSantis, though, is his attack on the governor’s COVID record. Trump claimed DeSantis “didn’t have to close up his state, but did, unlike other Republican governors” and suggested that the only reason Florida has experienced a massive influx of population over the past couple of years is because of “the advantage of sunshine, where people from badly run states up north would go no matter who the governor was.”
This has got to be the most idiotic angle imaginable. DeSantis’s COVID record is the reason he became a GOP star in the first place. His willingness to buck the establishment, question the narrative, and fight for the rights of Floridians made him a national leader, and it’s a big part of the reason he won so handily on Tuesday.
Moreover, bringing up the pandemic in this way only invites us to take a closer look at the decisions Trump made in 2020. Lest we forget, it was his administration that pressured the states to send everyone into the initial “14 days to stop the spread” lockdown. It was his administration that put Dr. Anthony Fauci in front of the microphone constantly, and it was Trump who refused to fire him even after it became clear that his recommendations were over-the-top.
Trump could have stopped the COVID meltdown before it even started, but he didn’t. So if it’s a debate over the pandemic that he wants, I’m sure DeSantis will be all too happy to oblige. He knows, as we all do, that it’s one Trump can’t and won’t win.