“Four new polls show former President Trump has received a boost in Republican support — with one survey showing him hitting 50% support in a crowded GOP field,” Axios reports.
A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows that after trailing for the last three months, Donald Trump has suddenly surged to a substantial lead over Gov. Ron DeSantis in a two-man matchup for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.
Previously, DeSantis led Trump 45% to 41% among Republican voters. Now Trump leads DeSantis 47% to 39% — a net swing of 12 percentage points in Trump’s direction since early February.
“A Fox News survey showing former President Trump leading Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by 15 points among Republican presidential primary voters is the latest cause for heartburn among Senate Republicans who don’t think Trump can win a general election match-up against President Biden,” The Hill reports.
“President Joe Biden will huddle with House Democrats in Baltimore on Wednesday as they work to develop a messaging strategy to help them hold the White House and flip the five seats needed to take back the House in 2024,” NBC News reports.
“Intense Republican infighting in Michigan is boosting Democrats in the critical 2024 battleground and hobbling GOP plans for a comeback after stinging defeats in three consecutive elections,” The Dispatch reports.
“Michigan’s sprawling Republican establishment of operatives, donors, elected officials, and allied industry groups is breaking ranks with the state party, declaring no-confidence in newly elected chairwoman Kristina Karamo—an ally of former President Donald Trump. They are instead directing money, manpower, and other crucial resources to a collection of conservative outside groups. Discussions are underway in Republican circles to launch additional super PACs and 501(c)4 nonprofit organizations.”
“It’s all part of a broad strategy to sidestep the Michigan GOP and shun Karamo.”
National Review: “The Wisconsin GOP has a problem — they’re losers. They lost a chance at the executive branch in November, and they’re fixing to lose their advantage in the judicial branch in April.”
The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), which goes on sale Tuesday, has already hit No. 1 on the Top 100 list of Amazon, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The Washington Post reviews The Courage to Be Free by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), calling it a sometimes substantive, consistently scorn-filled work thick with contempt for “elites,” a Democratic Party that he calls a “woke dumpster fire,” “the legacy media,” “Big Tech” and much, much more.
“The tone foreshadows what would surely be an irascible campaign if the answer to the question about whether DeSantis is running is yes.”
One example: “DeSantis doesn’t mention his gap year between Yale and Harvard, when he taught at the elite Darlington School. The New York Times wrote a scathing story about DeSantis during that year, with some students accusing him of going to parties with high school seniors, or recent graduates, where alcohol was served.”
Another: “DeSantis also doesn’t provide names of his friends while at Yale University, Harvard Law School, or in the Navy.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) “will make his debut appearances in three early presidential primary states in the next several weeks, selling his performance in his own state as he lays the groundwork for an expected presidential campaign,” the New York Times reports.
“Mr. DeSantis is tentatively expected to appear in Iowa during the first half of March, making stops in Davenport and Des Moines… Shortly after, he is expected to appear in Nevada, an early primary state, followed a few weeks later by an expected trip to Manchester, New Hampshire.”
“An appearance in South Carolina is also being discussed.”
Politico: “Republican campaigns have calculated that they can’t afford to offend an entire swath of the GOP electorate still sympathetic to Trump. Instead, they’ve chosen to chip away at them through non-aggressive means.”
Former Gov. Jeb Bush endorsed Gov. Ron Desantis for president in 2024. Will Trump will claim this as an in-kind donation for his campaign?
Washington Post: “With CPAC readying to welcome Trump back to its flagship annual gathering in D.C. this week, Schlapp is facing multiple challenges, including the exodus of more than half of its staff since 2021… Some expressed concern that Schlapp has given an inexperienced contractor too much influence. One former employee notified the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last month of plans to sue over claims that she was fired in retaliation for complaining about a co-worker’s sexist and racist comments.”
“The current turmoil comes as CPAC grapples with corporate backlash over its embrace of the far right and concerns about a potentially lackluster turnout this year as Trump’s political future appears uncertain. The Fox Nation streaming service is not returning as a sponsor, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, an ascendant figure in the Republican Party and Trump’s emerging rival in the 2024 campaign, is skipping it.”
“Democrats are rushing in to replace California Sen. Dianne Feinstein — and so are the Super PACs,” Politico reports.
“The once-in-a-generation contest for a California Senate seat could unleash a tsunami of outside spending as independent expenditure committees with unlimited fundraising powers work to differentiate Democrats jostling in an open field.”
Politico: “While Donald Trump headlines CPAC’s large annual confab of activists, conservative media and firebrands in Washington, D.C., Ron DeSantis is set to be the main draw at the Club for Growth’s private retreat for donors in Palm Beach.”
“Many of the Republican Party’s marquee players — including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and the top GOP leaders in Congress — will skip this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, dealing a significant blow to the annual gathering’s stature,” NBC News reports.
“The abandonment of CPAC, which runs from Wednesday through Saturday, comes as its chairman, Matt Schlapp, defends himself against a lawsuit alleging that he fondled a male aide to then-Senate candidate Herschel Walker in Georgia in October, without the aide’s consent.”
“I’m all for it.”— First Lady Jill Biden, when asked by CNN about her husband running for re-election.
Mark Leibovich: “In private, of course, many elected Democrats say Biden is too old to run again and that they wish he’d step away—which aligns with what large majorities of Democrats and independents have been telling pollsters for months. The public silence around the president’s predicament has become tiresome and potentially catastrophic for the Democratic Party. Somebody should make a refreshing nuisance of themselves and involve the voters in this decision.”
“Yes, this would be a radical move, and would anger a bunch of Democrats inside the various power terrariums of D.C., starting with the biggest one of all, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. There would be immediate blowback from donors, the Democratic National Committee, and other party institutions. But do it anyway. Preferably before Biden makes his final decision, while there’s an opening. If approached deftly, the gambit could benefit the president, the party, and even the challenger’s own standing, win or lose.”
“A fierce power struggle has broken out over who will run the Democratic Party in Nevada, a pivotal 2024 battleground that last year determined the balance of the Senate,” NBC News reports. “And it’s getting ugly.”
“There are calls for the sitting chair’s resignation. There are accusations that Democratic Party Chair Judith Whitmer steered contracts to allies. Two sparring sides accuse each other of attempting to fracture the party.”
“And new documents obtained by NBC News display the depths of the divisions and how they played out in the run-up to one of the closest Senate races in the nation.”
Jonathan Last: “Republican voters have shown over the last 7 years that they like insurgents. Trump’s problem in running for 2024 is that it’s hard to be an insurgent when you’re the former president.”
“But the entire Republican / conservative establishment congealing around DeSantis solves that problem. It makes DeSantis—who otherwise might be a fresh face—into the establishment behemoth. And it makes Trump into the insurgent fighting to purify the rigged Republican party.”
Rolling Stone: “The inconvenient truth is that to win any argument, and especially to win over a skeptical or divided audience, you need to establish your own authority and expertise while challenging your opponent’s. And for that, you do sometimes need to rely on ad hominem arguments — logical fallacies and politeness be damned!”
“To understand how to attack your opponent’s ethos, it’s best to start by understanding the three most common forms of the argumentum ad hominem—and why, in my view, they happen to be totally legit.”
PENNSYLVANIA STATE HOUSE. On the final day of Black History Month, Joanna McClinton made history of her own by becoming the first Black woman to be elected speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. McClinton, who is also the first woman to ever lead the chamber, prevailed in a 102-99 party-line vote that came minutes after Speaker Mark Rozzi announced he would step down so that his fellow Democrat could take his place.
Upon obtaining the gavel, the new speaker proclaimed, “I’m grateful for all who fought before me … so that this day was possible. It is only on their shoulders that I stand here today.” In her address, she also mentioned two of her predecessors: Benjamin Franklin, the future founding father who served as speaker in 1764, and K. Leroy Irvis, a Democrat who in 1977 became the first African American to serve as speaker of any legislative chamber in America since Reconstruction.
McClinton’s elevation came after a two-month delay occasioned by vacancies in three safely Democratic seats that temporarily gave Republicans a 101-99 advantage even though Democrats had, quite unexpectedly, won a 102-seat majority in November. Rozzi stepped into this vacuum and won the speakership in January with the support of 16 GOP members, but Democrats regained a formal majority with a trio of outsized special election victories on Feb. 7.
For a time, it was not clear whether Rozzi would defer to McClinton, but after he gave up the gavel on Tuesday, he made his loyalties vividly clear as he torched the Republicans who once backed him. In remarks to Spotlight PA, Rozzi said he understood at the time that the GOP was using him to stop McClinton from running the chamber but resolved that Republicans “were gonna pay for it.”
“[T]he way I was elected speaker, that’s a prime description of what is wrong with Harrisburg because the Republicans had a majority at that time,” Rozzi said, continuing, “But they tried to manipulate, hoodwink, snooker the members of this General Assembly by electing me, thinking that I would do their bidding for them. That I would turn against my party.”
Rozzi had pledged to lead the state House as an independent but infuriated Republicans when he maintained his Democratic affiliation. (He later claimed he’d only promised to consider such a switch, even though he’d publicly said that Pennsylvania would have its “first independent speaker of the House” after his ascension.) Relations turned so sour between him and one of his most prominent backers, Republican leader Bryan Cutler, that Rozzi changed the locks on the office suite Cutler had used when he was speaker.
Democrats, though, also wondered whether McClinton would replace Rozzi even before those Feb. 7 specials confirmed the party’s undisputed majority in the state House for the first time since 2010. Rozzi himself said just before those contests that he wanted to remain in charge, but a few days after the specials, he announced that he’d “reassess” after his colleagues had approved an amendment to the state constitution that would allow fellow childhood survivors of sexual abuse to sue their abusers.
The chamber did just that Friday, but the matter is far from over. The GOP-run state Senate passed a single bill in January bundling the measure with two unrelated amendments pushed by conservatives in the hopes that doing so would pressure House Democrats to put all three proposals on a future statewide ballot. Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman said last week that he felt his chamber had “fulfilled and completed our commitment” to abuse survivors, and it’s uncertain what will happen next, though Rozzi used his departure speech to declare, “We made it clear that no matter who you are … justice is coming for you.”