Trump has 5-point plan to take down Ron DeSantis, starting with nasty attacks
Strap yourself in, Ron, it’s about to get ugly.
Former President Donald Trump reportedly has hatched a five-point plan to take down Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whom he views as his only viable challenger for the Republican presidential nomination.
Trump plans to hammer the Florida governor with nasty attacks and name-calling, a strategy that he believes is already succeeding in knocking down DeSantis’s once towering favorability numbers, Axios reported Friday.
The ex-president has told confidantes that he doubts DeSantis has the spine to stand up to months of personal and political attacks like the “Ron DeSanctimonious” moniker that Trump thinks is already sinking in with Republican base voters.
Trump will have the chance to test drive his new attacks during his keynote speech Saturday at the CPAC convention, which DeSantis is skipping.
Trump insiders say DeSantis is really a mainstream, moderate Republican who is masquerading as a hardcore MAGA populist.
They intend to expose him as a political chameleon and a less-than-reliable conservative.
“There’s a pre-Trump Ron and there’s a post-Trump Ron,” one Trump confidant said. “He’s now awkwardly trying to square his views up with the populist nationalist feeling of that party.”
One of the most potent attacks Trump plans to unleash on DeSantis is that he would be open to cutting Medicare or Social Security, pointing to some votes he made in Congress.
He also plans to trash DeSantis for supposedly being too liberal on COVID pandemic restrictions and vaccines, a huge issue with the anti-vaxxer right wing of the GOP.
That could be a tough sell because Trump himself championed the vaccines and DeSantis built a reputation as one of the strongest opponents of COVID shutdowns.
Trump also plans to accuse DeSantis of supporting aid to Ukraine, an issue that is popular with mainstream voters of both parties but anathema to the MAGA base.
Trump has already launched an ugly personal attack on DeSantis by reposting a photo of him cozying up to teenage girls during his stint as a high school teacher.
Trump’s attacks have the potential to severely damage DeSantis before he even has the chance to hit back. They could play into the hands of Democrats who fear DeSantis as a more youthful and potentially more appealing opponent than the bombastic Trump.
The Florida governor has so far mostly kept his powder dry and has not hit back at Trump by name. He instead has stuck to bragging about his landslide victory in the midterm elections, while pointing out that some of Trump’s handpicked candidates lost winnable races.