The Political Report – May 2, 2023

Morning Consult: “The survey found that huge majorities of Americans blame recent mass shootings on mental health (85%) and on easy access to guns (75%), with smaller majorities also blaming violence in video games (61%), movies (53%) and music lyrics (51%).”

“Republicans, however, blamed video games (63%) more than they did easy access to guns (59%).”

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is poised to jump into the presidential fray as soon as mid-May,” NBC News reports.

“Some of his backers are urging him to declare as early as May 11, in an effort to counter the creeping national narrative that former President Donald Trump is the overwhelming frontrunner for the 2024 GOP nomination. Others in the governor’s orbit, however, have argued that that date would be too soon, according to two of those sources. All emphasized, however, that mid-May is the target.”

“The competition between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis is intensifying as the former president is scheduling a return trip to Iowa on the same day that the Florida governor was already going to be in the state that will kick off the Republican contest for the White House,” the AP reports.

“A Trump campaign official said Saturday that the former president plans to be in Iowa on May 13 to headline an organizing rally at a sprawling park in downtown Des Moines. That’s when DeSantis was already slated to headline Iowa Rep. Randy Feenstra’s annual summer fundraiser in northwest Iowa and speak at a party fundraiser later that evening in Cedar Rapids.”

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is poised to jump into the Republican presidential primary in the coming months with an $86 million pot of donor money—and a legally questionable strategy for using it,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The cash, currently sitting in a Florida political committee fund, would need to take a circuitous path to help him: It is illegal to use money raised for a state election to run for federal office, meaning Mr. DeSantis can’t simply transfer it into a presidential campaign account.”

“Instead, Mr. DeSantis’s allies plan to give the funds to a new super PAC led by some of his closest friends.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) got into a testy exchange with a reporter who asked whether he had witnessed detainees being tortured in Guantanamo Bay.

Gov. Ron DeSantis failed to impress British business chiefs at a high-profile London event Friday, in a tired performance described variously as “horrendous,” “low-wattage” and “like the end of an overseas trip,” Politico reports.

 “A super PAC backing an expected Mike Pence presidential bid is planning to launch in mid-May, while his campaign is ramping up talks with consultants and activists in early nominating states,” Politico reports.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is nearly ready to reveal his decision on entering the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, saying Sunday that he would make an announcement on May 22, the AP reports.

“Asa Hutchinson, the former two-term Republican governor of Arkansas, will formally launch his campaign for president Wednesday with a kickoff in his hometown of Bentonville,” the AP reports.

Jonathan Last: “No matter who the nominees are, the chances of one major-party candidate beating another don’t get much further apart than 65-35. That is the reality of our system, no matter how strong the one is and how weak the other is.”

“If you’re playing 1,000 hands of blackjack you feel awesome about 65-35 odds. But for a one-time outcome? When the stakes are high? Even 65-35 is equivalent to a coin flip and it ought to scare the crap out of you.”

“As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis prepares to jump into the presidential race, a growing number of supporters say he is sorely in need of a change in strategy if he’s to have any chance of defeating Donald Trump for the GOP nomination,” NBC News reports.

“They point to his drop in the polls, his lack of outreach to potential supporters who have instead backed Trump and the policy issues he has focused on. He’s spending his time battling one of the largest employers in the state, moving to the right on abortion and cleaning up verbal missteps on the war in Ukraine.”

“But inside DeSantis world, there’s no plan for a course correction on messaging or a broad strategy that puts culture wars front and center.”

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said he won’t let Donald Trump “get away” with not participating in the GOP’s primary debates, The Hill reports.

 “We’re just going to have to go into the basement, ride out the tornado and come back up when it’s over to rebuild the neighborhood.”—  A GOP strategist, quoted by Politico, on the inevitability of Donald Trump winning the Republican presidential nomination.

 “Donald Trump, fighting criminal charges in New York and multiple other ongoing investigations by federal and local prosecutors, is pitching Republican elected officials to get behind him as the inevitable nominee — and many of them are buying it,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump is finally seeing the response he was hoping for when he announced his candidacy almost six months ago, in a moment of political weakness, as many Republicans were openly blaming him for the party’s disappointing showing in the midterms. Now, Trump is reasserting his primacy in the GOP, capitalizing on his early polling lead and using his indictment by New York district attorney Alvin Bragg, on charges of falsifying business records in a 2016 hush money scheme, as a rallying cry.”

“For months, the presidential primary looked like the Ron DeSantis-Donald Trump show,” Politico reports.

“So it came as a surprise to some top Republicans this week when the well-funded super PAC supporting DeSantis turned its fire on Nikki Haley, a candidate still registering in the low-single digits in national polls.”

“A battle over a threatened price increase has exposed growing tensions between top Republican Party officials and the company with a virtual monopoly on processing Republican campaign contributions online,” the New York Times reports.

“Party leaders have risen up in opposition to the proposed price increase, which would siphon millions of dollars from GOP campaigns less than 20 months after the company, WinRed, had said its finances were robust enough to forego an extra fee on every transaction.”

“Democrats process most online donations through ActBlue, which, unlike WinRed, is an independent nonprofit.”

Miami Herald: “As he prepares for a potential presidential campaign, the governor and allies have emphasized how DeSantis’ family roots extend beyond Florida and into Midwestern states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, a connection they argue both shapes his values and gives him a special understanding of the region.”

“The burgeoning strategy also includes repeated references to Casey DeSantis, who grew up near Cincinnati, Ohio, and has played out across books, social media posts, TV ads, and speeches delivered across the country.”

Matt Lewis: “Sure, it’s theoretically possible that DeSantis could improve on the trail. But his performance over these last couple of weeks reminds me that he was a fairly average pol before Trump ever came down that escalator.”

“And it’s likely to get worse. While DeSantis fends off Trump’s attacks (including his argument that under DeSantis, Florida isn’t all that great), he will also face scrutiny from national media and be forced to defend policies he has piloted in Florida. These include policies around LGBTQ and trans people, and other culture war-slanted issues (including books being taken out of classrooms and wanting to change laws that protect journalists) that he cleaved to outflank Trump on the right.”

Matt Lewis: “Watch a clip of DeSantis’ recent interview with Piers Morgan, and he suddenly seems mortal. Common. He lacks the charisma and confidence that we see when he controls the setting and lectures Florida reporters.”

“What’s the problem? Like pornography, you know it when you see it. His body language betrays him. He doesn’t look comfortable in his skin. His laugh seems creepy. These criticisms may seem superficial, but just ask Kamala Harris how politically damaging such perceptions can be.”

“Slaying a monster like Donald Trump requires a certain presence. But in his Piers Morgan interview, DeSantis comes across as a politician who wants to hit his talking points and prove logically why he’s superior to Trump. And the thing is, you don’t slay dragons with logic.”

New York Times: “Mr. DeSantis’s whirlwind trip abroad this week was meant to elevate his credentials as a statesman and heavyweight, while taking him away from the hurly-burly of a fledgling presidential campaign that he has not officially begun.”

“But if Mr. DeSantis thought it would give him a reprieve from scrutiny, he was mistaken. His trip, which has taken him to Tokyo, Seoul, Jerusalem and, finally, London, with events there on Friday, has been free of any overt gaffes or obvious embarrassments. But his words have been parsed and compared with those of rivals and previous presidential hopefuls. His facial expressions have been examined. Even the placement of his hands has not escaped the notice of the international news media.”

Politico: “As he prepares to enter the presidential race in the coming weeks, DeSantis sits atop accounts poised to support his candidacy that total more than $110 million, according to public filings and people who represent the entities.”

“And that’s all without him opening an official campaign committee account.”

“DeSantis’ financial advantage looms over the Republican field: Most contenders have cash balances on orders of magnitude lower than his. It far outpaces lower-polling contenders like the pair of South Carolinians, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott. Even the super PAC backing Trump, MAGA Inc., reported $55 million on hand as of the end of 2022 — a hefty sum, but far short of what’s in the bank for DeSantis. The former president has also raised $18 million through his campaign since launching in November.”

Tim Miller: “Both decided that they had to accede to every whim of their respective super-online activist bases rather than stick with what was working for them.”

“Warren tried simultaneously to attract the most strident Bernie bros by belatedly embracing Medicare for All (and other lefty issues) while also checking every box demanded by the identitarian wing of the resistance: putting pronouns in her Twitter bio, branding merch with Latinx, and attracting the support of a group of activists named ‘Black Womxn For’ (without actually gaining any meaningful support from Black WomEn).”

“DeSantis’s right-wing version has been much less earnest and well intentioned, but it’s just as out of touch. As a campaign prelude, Meatball Ron is presiding over a legislative session with a policy orientation more suited for Alabama than presidential battleground states. He’s tied himself to policies such as a six-week abortion ban and “constitutional carry” that even many Republicans don’t support. On top of that, his current stump speech requires a Ph.D. in based online discourse to have any idea what he’s talking about.”

Peggy Noonan: “Mr. DeSantis is reported to be announcing his presidential run later this spring. I got an interesting note about him the other day from the veteran political operative Alex Castellanos. He said the problem for Mr. DeSantis is not that he’s unlikable: ‘The problem for Ron is worse. It’s that he does not like us.’ When voters see a political figure likes them, they start to trust him, because they know ‘he will do a lot to preserve their affection.’”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

1 comment on “The Political Report – May 2, 2023

  1. cassandram

    DeSantis also has a glass jaw. Tim Miller’s piece seems forced. You could pick almost any of the credible candidates that cycle and make the same case. The serious ones were doing what Warren was doing — trying to figure out how to speak to as much of the base as possible while preserving a lane to speak to persuadable independents in the General. Miller also seems to think (from a podcast I was listening to) that there is a pretty big space for Chris Christie to get in the GOP mix. Christie would come out swinging against 45 and target him directly in a way the rest of the GOP field seems to be hesitant to do.

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