There are those in the mainstream media — and in the Republican Party itself — who seem to think that the GOP is headed for a “civil war,” with supporters of former President Donald Trump on one side versus other party leaders.
That may be so, but Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t want to hear about it — at least not yet.
During a Wednesday news conference on hurricane relief, the governor was asked about Trump’s announcement the previous evening of his third candidacy for the White House and what that might mean for the party.
“Governor, it may appear that there may be a civil war brewing with the GOP, with people having to choose between you and Donald Trump,” a reporter said in the closing minutes of the event.
“No, look: “We just finished this election, OK? People just need to chill out a little bit on some of this stuff, I mean seriously,” DeSantis said, to cheers and applause from some of those gathered for the news conference. “We just ran an election, we have this Georgia runoff coming, which is very important for Republicans to win that Georgia runoff.”
Of course, DeSantis is a politician with a national presence and plans of his own for the future, so he wasn’t going to let the moment slide without also giving a bit of a campaign speech himself.
“I mean, I know, around the country, Florida was kind of the biggest bright spot,” he said. “It was not so bright in many other parts of the country. It was a substandard performance [by Republican candidates] given the dynamics that are in play.
“So hopefully we’ll be able to do that, but I think what people like me, who have been given the opportunity to continue, is, OK, let’s do something with that,” he said.
DeSantis then did what he’s done consistently, at least in public — focused on issues and results, rather than politics or personalities.
“And the reason why we won historic victory is at the end of the day, we led, we delivered, and we had your back when you needed us,” he argued. “That is why we won big.”
You can see his comments here (or click here for more video of the event, but with poorer-quality audio and video):
JUST IN: Gov. Ron DeSantis asked about a “GOP Civil War”
“We just finished this election, ok? People just need to chill out a little bit on some of this stuff, I mean seriously […] We have this Georgia runoff coming, which is very important for Republicans to win.” pic.twitter.com/XduafoZJif
— Florida’s Voice (@FLVoiceNews) November 16, 2022
We can argue — and if past experience is any indication, we will argue for a goodly part of the next couple of years — about who the best GOP candidate will be for 2024. It might be Donald Trump, or Ron DeSantis, or someone else who hasn’t even risen yet to national prominence. (I’d say it would be hard to find any space for a third possibility in the current environment, but I’d also say it would be unwise ever to rule out such a possibility in American politics.)
There are a few points that aren’t really arguable, however: DeSantis did win big in Florida, beating former Rep. Charlie Crist by 19.41 points, the largest margin in modern Florida gubernatorial politics.
He also won Miami-Dade County by over 11 points. No Republican has won that country in 20 years.
In contrast, Donald Trump beat President Joe Biden in 2020 by 3.36 points in 2020, and lost Miami-Dade County to Biden by 7.33 points.
That does not, of course, necessarily mean that DeSantis is a better choice for Republican presidential nominee than Trump in 2024. But it certainly seems to indicate that DeSantis has an edge over Trump in Florida, whose 29 electoral votes alone represent more than 10 percent of those needed to win the Oval Office.
Who has the edge on getting the other 241 Electoral College votes needed to win? Well, I guess that’s the part we’ll be arguing about for the next couple of years.
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