The Political Report – May 20, 2023

For months, Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis have been preparing for a face off in the Republican presidential race. It finally begins next week with DeSantis formally announcing his bid.

But even though Trump is currently lapping DeSantis in the polls, the former president is about to get something even better: A big and divided Republican field.

On Wednesday, DeSantis will join Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson and Vivek Ramaswamy as formally declared candidates in the race. But the field will expand dramatically in the coming weeks with expected announcements from Sen. Tim Scott, Mike Pence and Chris Christie.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu also sounds like he’s going to run. And while few have heard of North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, he has both the conservative credentials and the ability to self-finance a race.

Even Glenn Youngkin is trying to keep the buzz about his own candidacy alive. That’s a lot of candidates who will split the anti-Trump vote in a Republican party that still seems to very much love Trump.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) “has joined the anyone-but-Trump caucus, becoming the most prominent Texas Republican to shun the former president’s 2024 comeback bid,” the Dallas Morning News reports.

Said Cornyn: “We need to come up with an alternative. I think President Trump’s time has passed him by and what’s the most important thing to me is we have a candidate who can actually win.”

He added: “I don’t think President Trump understands that when you run in a general election, you have to appeal to voters beyond your base. There’s no question that President Trump has some enthusiastic supporters as part of his base. That works well for him in a Republican primary, but not well when you need to expand your appeal in a general election.”

Nikki Haley called January 6, 2021 “a terrible day” and said any person who broke the law at the U.S. Capitol that day “should pay the price,” NBC News reports.

Said Haley: “It was not a beautiful day, it was a terrible day, and we don’t ever want that to happen again.”

“Welcome to the race. We’ve been waiting.”  — Nikki Haley, quoted by The Hill, reacting to reports that Gov. Ron DeSantis is entering the GOP presidential race next week.

Fascist curious GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has an idea for addressing GOP challenges with young voters that is likely to catch on with other Republicans: don’t let them vote. I had missed this when he first mentioned it a week ago. But Ramaswamy proposed barring people under the age of 25 from voting unless they serve in the military or are a first responder. He might also allow it if they passed a citizenship test like the one given to new citizens.

Gov. Ron DeSantis “all but declared his presidential candidacy on Thursday afternoon, telling donors and supporters on a call that only three ‘credible’ candidates were in the race and that only he would be able to win both the Republican primary and the general election,” the New York Times reports.

Said DeSantis: “You have basically three people at this point that are credible in this whole thing. Biden, Trump and me.”

He added: “And I think of those three, two have a chance to get elected president — Biden and me, based on all the data in the swing states, which is not great for the former president and probably insurmountable because people aren’t going to change their view of him.”

The Messenger reports DeSantis has sent invitations for a Wednesday kick off of his campaign.

The Messenger reports that “the DeSantis campaign’s operatives are ‘leak-testing’ by intentionally giving out false dates and information to see if it goes public — and therefore determine whom they can’t trust.”

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) “rolled out a campaign-style video appearing to cast him as the successor to President Ronald Reagan — despite his pledge to focus entirely on this year’s Virginia legislative races,” the Washington Post reports.

“Based on Youngkin’s speech this month at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif., the one-minute spot features soaring rhetoric, swelling music and one glaring gaffe: mistaking a foreign fighter jet for an American one.”

“Mike Pence’s prepared remarks for a speech in New Hampshire this week lifted words directly from an address his former boss, Donald Trump, delivered nearly four years ago,” Politico reports.

Hedge fund founder Anthony Scaramucci plans to back former Gov. Chris Christie in the Republican presidential primary and expects billionaire Steve Cohen will support him, too, Semafor reports.

“Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) has committed to backing his fellow Republican colleague Tim Scott (R-SC) as he prepares to launch a run for the White House in 2024,” the Washington Examiner reports.

Chris Sununu is accelerating plans to run for president, with close allies telling The Dispatch the New Hampshire governor wants to seek the Republican nomination and is exploring avenues for mounting a viable 2024 campaign.

Ramesh Ponnuru: “The critique that DeSantis is making of Trump — that he would lose in November 2024 — might be popular among the governor’s supporters, but it would probably fall flat among the Republican voters he needs to persuade to win.”

“For one thing, Trump has defied such predictions before. He was written off as a joke candidate in the Republican primaries when he entered the presidential race in 2015. When he won the nomination, it was assumed that Hillary Clinton would handily defeat him. (I’m among those who said he wouldn’t win either time.) Then he won against her, too.”

“To convince Republican voters that Trump is a loser would thus require getting them to believe that the same argument everyone made back then and saw blow up in their faces is right this time. For many conservatives, Trump’s 2016 victory reinforced the idea that ‘electability’ is a ploy used by the media and squishy Republicans to discredit candidates who are willing to fight for them.”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) “will announce his candidacy for president on Monday and will enter the race with around $22 million cash on hand, making him one of the most serious competitors for the front-runner, Donald Trump, even as Mr. Scott has hovered around 2 percent in Republican primary polls,” the New York Times reports.

The Washington Post reports Scott is launching a $6 million advertising buy set to begin next week.

Playbook: “MAGA Inc. PAC is launching a new ad airing on Fox News, CNN and Newsmax. The ad is also running today in four Iowa markets (Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Sioux City) and on WMUR in New Hampshire.”

Associated Press: “The ad buy, valued at about $5.5 million, is scheduled to run through the first GOP presidential debate in late August and marks the most significant advertising expenditure by a potential or declared candidate in the early stages of the 2024 nominating campaign.”

“The spot attacks Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ previous support for a national sales tax with corny but catchy lyrics sung to the tune of ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm.’”

From the ad: “With a sales tax here, and a sales tax there / Here a tax, there a tax, everywhere a sales tax…”

Associated Press: “The threat posed by AI and so-called deepfakes always seemed a year or two away. No more.”

 “He’s got no personality. And I don’t think he’s got a lot of political skill.”— Donald Trump, in an interview with The Messenger, on why Gov. Ron DeSantis is not polling very well.

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

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