Scaros: When Trump Attacks DeSantis, He Takes Himself Down Too


There are various types of voters when it comes to Donald Trump, and they exist all across the political spectrum. They are Democrats, Republicans, independents and third-party supporters.

The least affected by anything Trump says or does are the Never Trumpers. They utterly despise the former president and are convinced that he’s an incompetent, evil and morally bankrupt narcissist. Some in the group are simply leftists who won’t vote for any Republican. In any case, it’s safe to say that Trump won’t be getting their vote.

Next, there are the Maybe Trumpers — those who may or may not vote for Trump. They are divided into three subgroups: Probably Trumpers, Probably Not Trumpers and truly Undecided Trumpers.

If there were no other groups, then strong Trump supporters — those who voted for him in 2016 and 2020 and plan to do so in 2024 — would classify themselves as Probably Trumpers. But there’s one group left: the Only Trumpers.

Only Trumpers are convinced that the deep state has such a hopeless stranglehold on our country that God Almighty has handpicked Trump to be our nation’s savior. When Trump said “I alone can fix it” at the 2016 Republican convention, the Only Trumpers took him literally. If Trump is not the GOP nominee, they may very well declare whoever is to be an enemy of the people.

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Now, let’s look beyond the GOP primaries for a moment and jump directly to the 2024 general election.

Suppose Trump wins the Republican nomination, as he probably will. Suddenly, some groups beyond the Only Trumpers and Probably Trumpers are going to support him. Undecided Trumpers, faced with the prospect of four more years of Biden or, if you can imagine, an even worse Democrat, will suddenly warm up to a second Trump term very quickly. A lot of Republican Probably Not Trumpers will too.

But if Trump doesn’t stop attacking Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, that second Trump term is at risk of never materializing.

Here’s why: Trump has an outstanding track record of hammering his political opponents with the precision and lethalness of a Tomahawk cruise missile. His branding of Little Marco (Rubio), Lying Ted (Cruz) and Low-Energy Jeb (Bush) knocked those three prominent Republican contenders flat on their backs right out of the starting gate. He followed that up by relentlessly attacking Crooked Hillary (Clinton) en route to an impressive general election win.

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Trump even had an apt nickname, Sleepy Joe (Biden), for his 2020 general election opponent, even though the result didn’t turn out as he hoped.

That Trump would try to derail DeSantis’ potential presidential run before the latter has even announced is no surprise, but his methods are going to hurt his credibility with the large group of Undecided Trumpers who truly sit on the fence. One small gust of wind can tilt them one way or the other.

You see, Trump has really laid into DeSantis the way a grappler would turn on his own tag-team partner during a match in the heyday of professional wrestling and thereby instantly turn from good guy to villain. Once Trump got wind of DeSantis’ presidential ambitions, he pounced like a predator.

Trump opened his attack with the nickname Ron DeSanctimonious, which sounds humorous enough because no one is better at name-calling than Trump, but unlike all the others I mentioned, it doesn’t really apply.

Had DeSantis expressed outrage at some of Trump’s behavior, as did fellow Republicans Mitt Romney, Liz Cheney and Paul Ryan, to name a few, the “sanctimonious” label would have fit. It could surely apply to Mike Pence, who as Trump’s vice president refused to halt the election certification process on Jan. 6, 2021. But DeSantis neither attacked Trump nor adopted any sort of holier-than-though stance.

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Next, Trump sided with woke Disney in its feud with DeSantis. This maneuver reeks of political opportunism. But Trump knows that of the two combatants — Disney and DeSantis — only one poses a threat in the 2024 primaries, and so, inevitably, Trump will side with the other.

Yet so many Trumpers have such a visceral aversion to wokeness that any embrace of it, however limited or implied, is an affront to their deepest-held values.

Recently, Trump has upped the ante, calling DeSantis’ governance in Florida a failure. He rattles off statistic after statistic, even citing the opinions of the Florida Policy Institute, which among other things wants to issue driver’s licenses to PHIs (persons here illegally).

Ending illegal entry and stay was the centerpiece of Trump’s successful rise to the top of the Republican Party in 2016. It was the issue that most distanced him from the other 16 GOP presidential hopefuls, a formidable field that included five senators and nine governors, none of whom spoke on the immigration issue with as much passion and conviction as Trump did.

To refer to DeSantis’ record as “one of misery and despair” that has “left a wake of destruction all across Florida” is as far removed from reality as one can imagine. Florida is the fastest-growing state in terms of population. Over the past couple of years, more people have relocated from blue states to Florida because of DeSantis’ leadership and policies. One of those was Trump himself!

As a Probably Trump Supporter who voted for him twice and at this point believes there’s a 99 percent chance I’d vote for him a third time (because if I say 100 percent I’d feel like I’m in a cult), I don’t want to see him lose in the general election because of these attacks on DeSantis that make him appear as if he’s just an opportunist with no deeply held values who’ll do anything to win.

I can overlook those character flaws because I have such faith in the upside he would bring and how quickly and effectively he would fix all the Biden wrongs.

But I’m worried that the Undecided Trumpers might not feel that way, and it’s their vote that matters most.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Constantinos E. (“Dino”) Scaros, JD, Ph.D., is a presidential historian, educator, attorney, newspaper editor and columnist, and political analyst. He is also the author of several books covering many contemporary issues, most recently "How to Talk Politics Without Arguing," "Trumped-Up Charges!" and "Stop Calling Them 'Immigrants.'" Follow him on his Facebook page: Listen to Dino.