The Political Report – March 17, 2023

In an early look at the 2024 Republican presidential primary, a new Quinnipiac poll finds 46% of Republican voters support Donald Trump and 32% support Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Said pollster Tim Malloy: “DeSantis might be the buzz in the GOP conversation, but for now Trump is seeing no erosion and, in fact, enjoys a bump in his lead in the Republican primary.”

Views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have shifted sharply among Democrats, who said they sympathized more with Palestinians than Israelis for the first time in an annual Gallup survey.

CHRISTIE 2024. Former Gov. Chris Christie (R) is returning later this month to New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary and votes second overall in the GOP presidential nominating calendar, Fox News reports.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told the Washington Examiner that he’ll decide on another presidential bid in the next 45 to 60 days.

TRUMP v. DESANTIS. “Senate Republicans are wincing over former President Trump’s early barrage of attacks against his chief rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), fearing they’re seeing a preview of a brutal primary to come that could leave both candidates weakened heading into the general election,” The Hill reports.

“GOP lawmakers acknowledge DeSantis needs to show he can take a punch and aren’t shocked Trump would take hard shots at a rival as the campaign heats up.”

Politico: “Trump’s team and his allied PAC are preparing an expansive opposition research file by poring over DeSantis’ record as a prosecutor, member of Congress, and Florida governor.”

“Among the items a Trump-allied group has drilled into is DeSantis’ record while serving as an assistant U.S. Attorney before running for congressional office, with plans to accuse him of being an ‘extremely lenient prosecutor’ in cases involving, among other things, child pornography.”

Donald Trump slammed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for his remarks about U.S. support for Ukraine, saying the governor is just following his lead, CBS News reports.  Said Trump: “It is a flip-flop. He was totally different. Whatever I want, he wants.”

Washington Post: “President Biden and Democrats often engage in their own existential messaging, warning that some Republicans — who they deride as ‘extremists’ — are out of lockstep with most Americans, eager, for example, to cut programs like Medicare and Social Security…”

“But much of the rhetoric from the declared and potential Republican candidates so far is remarkable for its dystopian tone. In many high-profile moments, these Republicans portray the nation as locked in an existential battle, where the stark combat lines denote not just policy disagreements but warring camps of saviors versus villains, and where political opponents are regularly demonized.”

Said GOP pollster Frank Luntz: “Trump has turned Republican politics on its head. We were so much more positive and hopeful, and it was Republicans who looked to the future with excitement and energy, but those days are long gone.”

WILLIAMSON 2024. “The best-selling author Marianne Williamson has built a career preaching love and forgiveness. It is the cornerstone of her second Democratic campaign for president which she launched on March 4,” Politico reports.

“But those who have worked with Williamson as she has moved into the political realm say her public persona is at odds with her private behavior.”

“Interviews with 12 people who worked for Williamson during her 2020 presidential campaign paint a picture of a boss who can be verbally and emotionally abusive.”

Playbook: “The Senate map is much more GOP-friendly this cycle — with Democrats defending more than a dozen incumbents, many of them in states that are either purple or full-on red — yet Republicans appear to be in a familiar bind.”

“Far-right candidates are mulling runs and gaining traction amid clear signs they will fail miserably in the general election, putting GOP hopes of reclaiming the chamber at risk.”

YOUNGKIN 2024. “Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, increasingly seeking out national audiences ahead of a possible campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, will travel next month to meet megadonors in Dallas,“ the Washington Post reports.

“The April reception for Youngkin, a first-term governor and former private equity executive, will be hosted by Robert Rowling, the owner of Omni Hotels.”

“The hotel magnate, whose net worth is estimated at $5.6 billion by Forbes, gave $25,000 to Youngkin in the final month of his successful 2021 gubernatorial campaign, according to state records. Rowling contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and committees in last year’s midterms, federal filings show.”

TRUMP 2024. Washington Post: “As the former president hits the campaign trail in earnest for the first time since announcing his third White House bid, his campaign is placing a strategic bet on more unscripted, up-close-and-personal moments with his fans.”

“Trump is leaning into his freewheeling style in no small measure, according to advisers, to draw a contrast with his potential chief rival for the Republican nomination: Ron DeSantis. The Florida governor’s unofficial pre-campaign book tour has consisted of more scripted and stage-managed events, often where the row of cameras that Trump so loves are excluded and the rituals of more intimate politics are limited.”

“As DeSantis moves closer to entering the race against Trump, the emerging contrast between the two leading Republicans in the polls is more about presentation than ideology. With both seeking to tap into voter grievances with combative messages, they are offering GOP voters two distinct vessels for channeling their anger. There are risks associated with both strategies, as some voters have grown tired of Trump’s antics and say they are drawn to DeSantis’s more streamlined presentation, while others remain excited by Trump’s unpredictability.”

FLORIDA U.S. SENATOR. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) told Politico that he won’t primary Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL): “If I wanted to spend my time in a retirement community, I’d definitely choose The Villages over the Senate.”

New York Times: “The last time an open Republican presidential primary featured just one candidate who had previously sought the office was in 1980.”

“The relatively small size of the prospective 2024 field of Trump challengers, with several potential candidates dragging their feet on entering the race, may have something to do with the debasing experience of the Republicans who battled him in 2016 and came away with nothing to show for it but insulting sobriquets like Low-Energy Jeb, Lyin’ Ted and Liddle Marco.”

Politico: “So far, five [Democratic House] members have already announced plans to run for Senate in just the first few months of the 2024 cycle including Democratic Reps. Katie Porter (Calif.) and Elissa Slotkin (Mich.), both of whom are leaving ‘frontline’ — or highly competitive — districts.”

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