It’s always kind of sad to watch superstars decline at the end of their careers, missing free throws, fumbling the ball or striking out on pitches that used to be home runs. It just wasn’t the same to see Michael Jordan wearing a Washington Wizards jersey, Emmitt Smith wearing number 22 for the Arizona Cardinals, or Willie Mays donning a Mets cap at the twilight of his career.
At a political rally in Miami, Florida over the past weekend, we might have the equivalent with Donald Trump. Sure, he has some of that spark left and he still knows how to play to a crowd, but his fastball isn’t what it used to be. Long gone are the days of “Lyin’ Ted” or “Crooked Hillary” or even “Sleepy Joe.” Facing the prospect of competing against Ron DeSantis in the 2024 primary, the 45th President took to the stage in South Florida thinking he was ready to offer another knockout with a nickname, but instead, he got groans after calling the governor “Ron De-Sanctimonious.”
The New York Times reported, “Former President Donald J. Trump hasn’t endorsed Gov. Ron DeSantis this year because, as he has explained, his fellow Floridian never asked. Mr. DeSantis didn’t attend the Trump rally on Sunday in Miami, his allies said, because he wasn’t personally invited.
Bruised egos are commonplace in politics. But rarely has a rift at the top of a party spilled so fully into view at such a pivotal moment. At a rally on Saturday night in Latrobe, Pa., Mr. Trump bestowed one of his signature nicknames on Mr. DeSantis: Ron DeSanctimonious.
Their escalating tensions took center stage on Sunday, with dueling campaign rallies in Florida just two days before voting concludes in the 2022 midterm elections. Mr. Trump campaigned in South Florida with Senator Marco Rubio and other Florida Republicans, while Mr. DeSantis made his case for re-election during a set of events along the state’s west coast.”
Trump’s attack on DeSantis was so cringeworthy that even the former president’s conservative allies went after him for his comments.
Fox News quoted several conservative pundits who were appalled at Trump. “‘DeSantis is an extremely effective conservative governor who has had real policy wins and real cultural wins. Trump isn’t going to be able to take this one down with a dumb nickname. He better have more than that up his sleeve,’ wrote Matt Walsh, a commentator at The Daily Wire and a leading voice among social conservatives.
‘Also, nice job launching your public attack against the most popular conservative governor in America three days before the midterms when we’re all supposed to be showing a united front,’ he added.”
Also, nice job launching your public attack against the most popular conservative governor in America three days before the midterms when we’re all supposed to be showing a united front
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) November 6, 2022
Rod Dreher wrote, “What an idiot. DeSantis is a far more effective leader of the Right than Trump was, if, that is, you expect a leader to get a lot done, rather than just talking about it and owning the libs.”
What an idiot. DeSantis is a far more effective leader of the Right than Trump was, if, that is, you expect a leader to get a lot done, rather than just talking about it and owning the libs. https://t.co/HNIFFGx6mT
— Rod Dreher (@roddreher) November 6, 2022
Conservative reporter Ian Miles Cheong tweeted a response to Walsh, “Bad mouthing the most effective governor who’s pushed nothing but conservative wins is a bad look for Trump. No idea who he’s taking advice from but it’s bad advice.”
Bad mouthing the most effective governor who’s pushed nothing but conservative wins is a bad look for Trump. No idea who he’s taking advice from but it’s bad advice.
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) November 6, 2022
And Fox News commentator and founder of The Federalist simply opined: “needs work.”
Needs work. https://t.co/AcXjHr5MzD
— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) November 6, 2022
Several other conservatives took to Twitter to defend DeSantis against Trump.
— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) November 6, 2022
I’ll just say this: Trump better tread really freaking lightly. He’s not going to be able to name call and minimize Ron DeSantis in a primary contest.
RDS hasn’t antagonized Trump. And conservatives love RDS’s record, and they’re not going to tolerate the 2016-style bullying.
— ⚜️ Ellen Carmichael ⚜️ (@ellencarmichael) November 6, 2022
So is part of the Donald Trump master plan to divide the Republican Party on the eve of a very important election?
Name calling Ron DeSantis is an absolutely pathetic move.🙄
— Keith Malinak AtTheMicShow.com (@KeithMalinak) November 6, 2022
Trump’s attacks on DeSantis are going to have a boomerang effect. Almost all Trump supporters are big fans of the Florida governor and agree with his policies and approach in running Florida. This comes just 3 days before an election and reflects poorly on the former president. https://t.co/hXOWtjpG3Q
— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) November 6, 2022
Trump’s attack on the Florida governor come as rumors spread that the former president will soon be announcing another run for the White House.
CNN reported, “Top aides to former President Donald Trump have discussed the third week of November as an ideal launch point for his 2024 presidential campaign if Republicans fare well in the midterm elections next week, sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.
Two sources said Trump’s team has specifically discussed November 14 as one possible announcement date, which would come in the middle of an overseas trip to Asia that President Joe Biden has long been scheduled to make. Trump is unlikely to announce prior to that Monday, even if the GOP exceeds expectations on Election Night, to avoid overshadowing his daughter Tiffany’s November 12 wedding at Mar-a-Lago and because he does not want to share a news cycle with midterm results, sources said.
These sources also cautioned that no date has been locked in and Trump could push it back if control of the Senate remains undecided after Election Day or Republicans see underwhelming gains in their House races. While discussions about where Trump should launch his next White House bid have occurred, one person familiar with the matter said his team has not yet made a decision on a venue and is still toying with an announcement close to home in Palm Beach, Florida, where he has headquartered his political operation since leaving Washington, or in a Rust Belt battleground area like Ohio or Pennsylvania.”
Trump may have more than just helping Make America Great Again as a reason to run for president. Reports have stated that “former President Donald Trump believes that a successful 2024 presidential run could shield him from criminal investigations….Four people with knowledge of the situation told the publication that Trump has recently spoken about the legal protections being the president provides.
Trump has ‘spoken about how when you are the President of the United States, it is tough for politically motivated prosecutors to ‘get to you,’ one of the sources told Rolling Stone.”
“He says when [not if] he is president again, a new Republican administration will put a stop to the [Justice Department] investigation that he views as the Biden administration working to hit him with criminal charges — or even put him and his people in prison,” a source told the publication.
The trouble for Trump may not just be that he’s losing speed on his fastball, but that Republicans see a former incumbent who couldn’t beat Joe Biden. Fox News noted, “DeSantis has carried the victory in some 2024 primary polls. A survey of Republicans in New Hampshire saw the governor take a thin lead over Trump in a potential Republican primary in June. The poll showed 39% of likely Republican primary voters in the Granite State would support the first-term Florida governor, with 37% backing the former president.”
Another problem for Trump may be funding a campaign. Billionaire CEO Ken Griffin recently said, “For a litany of reasons, I think it’s time to move on to the next generation.”
During an interview with Politico, “in his temporary offices in downtown Miami, detailing how he directs his political contributions, Griffin [said] that he’s prepared to back the Florida governor if he runs for the White House. Griffin was the leading donor to DeSantis’ reelection campaign this cycle, dropping $5 million.”
He told the magazine, “I don’t know what he’s going to do. It’s a huge personal decision. He has a tremendous record as governor of Florida, and our country would be well-served by him as president.”
The midterms are on Tuesday. Typically, you begin to see potential presidential candidates begin to kick the tires on making a run for the White House about nine months afterward, in this case, you’d expect to see movement during the summer of 2023.