Ron DeSantis has had trouble gaining traction against Donald Trump ever since the Manhattan indictment of Trump in March, before DeSantis announced. That is where a race that was tightening coming into 2023 suddenly moved to a large gap for Trump as a rally-around effect took place, which Trump and his campaign expertly exploited for fundraising and demands of loyalty.
The chart shows the breakout in late March.
That rally-around effect has continued with each successive indictment. I’ve long called this a manipulation and a set-up, with Democrats doing everything they can to promote Trump getting the nomination because they want to run against him, while also making it more difficult than it already would be for him to win a general election. The rally-around is a trap.
It’s not just a rally-around effect, though. DeSantis has run a bad campaign. He allowed Trump to spend six months dumping $18 million of negative ads, and attacking relentlessly, before DeSantis even entered the race or responded. It was a very smart move by Team Trump.
DeSantis’ campaign rollout, with the botched Twitter Spaces launch, has been weak at best. The campaign has been too formulaic, too scripted, too conventional.
But most important in my view, is that DeSantis has followed a flawed strategy of dancing around Trump’s many weaknesses. DeSantis didn’t and doesn’t need to call Trump names the way Trump does, but DeSantis needed to confront Trump’s many failures and inadequacies as a general election candidate without hesitation.
I expressed this before DeSantis even launched his campaign:
“going after Trump remains largely taboo within the party” – nipping around the edges of Trump’s weaknesses isn’t going to work. If DeSantis is not willing to go after Trump head on (the way Trump has been doing to him), how can he expect Republican voters to do so? It’s the reason prosecutors walk up to the defense table and point at the defendant – not b/c people don’t know who the defendant is, but to show the jury that prosecutor is not afraid of the defendant and to give the jury the courage to convict. DeSantis needs to give Republican voters in the middle who are neither OnlyTrump nor NeverTrump the courage to vote against Trump.
"going after Trump remains largely taboo within the party" – nipping around the edges of Trump's weaknesses isn't going to work. If DeSantis is not willing to go after Trump head on (the way Trump has been doing to him), how can he expect Republican voters to do so? It's the…
— William A. Jacobson (@wajacobson) April 23, 2023
Now DeSantis is changing campaign managers:
Ron DeSantis has replaced his campaign manager Generra Peck, in what is the third major reshuffling of his operations, a campaign spokesperson and a person familiar with the move confirmed to POLITICO.
Peck will be shifted to a role of chief strategist as part of the new order. Taking her place atop the campaign will be James Uthmeier, who has served as chief of staff in DeSantis’ governor’s office. In a text message, Uthmeier said the change was happening “ASAP.” …
One person close to the campaign, who was granted anonymity to freely discuss the issue, said that Peck’s removal, which was first reported by The Messenger, was “no surprise. Should have happened a few weeks ago.”
DeSantis’ campaign spokesperson, Andrew Romeo, also confirmed the staff moves in a statement, saying that “Uthmeier has been one of Governor DeSantis’ top advisors for years and he is needed where it matters most: working hand in hand with Generra Peck and the rest of the team to put the governor in the best possible position to win this primary and defeat Joe Biden.”
Changing campaign managers of a flailing campaign may or may not do the trick, but it’s hardly a sign that the candidate is finished. Donald Trump changed campaign manager, campaign chair, and political director during the 2016 campaign.
It always was going to be difficult for any candidate to overcome Trump in the primaries. DeSantis has not done himself any favors with his botched campaign to date. But this is a long process, if he can turn it around.DONATE
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