Ron and Casey DeSantis: 2024’s formidable couple are ‘spooking’ Trump

By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor


Reposted from The Hill on June 16, 2022

Before presidential candidates make their official announcement, they must be confident that their spouse is equally enthusiastic, supportive and strapped in for a wild ride. 

Now consider Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), whose wife Casey is said to be emboldening his 2024 White House ambition five months before his (presumed) reelection as governor. That soft bombshell was recently dropped in a Washington Post piece headlined: “The shadow race is underway for the Republican presidential nomination.”

The Post reported, “DeSantis’s wife, Casey, a former television host and among a small circle of confidants, wants him to run for president.” It’s newsworthy only because Florida’s first lady wields tremendous power as the governor’s most influential adviser.

Polished and articulate, Casey DeSantis, age 42, is camera-ready from her Emmy award-winning television career — envisioning her current title on the nation’s most prestigious set. Casey’s private encouragement of her husband, now publicly revealed, helps us answer “yes” to the second most-asked question in the 2024 GOP stratosphere: “Will DeSantis run if Trump runs?” (Naturally, “Will Trump run?” is first.)

While ambition fuels the DeSantis’s White House dreams, their timing is prudent and politically justified, as the Post explained:

“The couple believes that the governor’s skills are uniquely matched to the current political climate, and are wary of waiting six years, by which time the tides may have shifted. DeSantis has not indicated if he would defer a campaign if Trump runs.”

DeSantis’s refusal to rule out running against the former president is a long-time bone of contention, reportedly sparking Trump’s “souring” on the 43-year-old governor. With elections approaching, the widely predicted Trump v. DeSantis war of oversized egos is about to go nuclear. So, imagine Trump’s fury after reading the Post’s quote that DeSantis “has told donors ‘No one’s nomination is inevitable.’” Advantage: DeSantis.

That same political truth applies to “No one’s victory is inevitable.” However, match-up polls with the governor’s likely opponent, Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), are impressive. And again, Trump’s ire was raised when the Post revealed DeSantis’s reelection goal:

“Beating Trump’s 2020 margin of three percentage points in Florida has become a key campaign goal, according to three people familiar with the conversations.” (Those same unnamed “three people” revealed Mrs. DeSantis is cheerleading his presidential run.)

Remember, three percentage points is a quantum leap from when DeSantis was elected governor in 2018 with a 0.4 percentage point victory over Democrat Andrew Gillum. Furthermore, if DeSantis is reelected by at least three points, he wins national bragging rights, including the right to drive Trump ballistic. Whereas winning by five points would be a “Florida landslide,” catapulting DeSantis to “frontrunner” status.  

Florida’s close races are legendary. The last time a gubernatorial election was won by a margin greater than 1.2 percentage points was in 2006. Ironically, the Republican victor was none other than Charlie Crist, then a Republican, who defeated his Democratic opponent by 7.1 percentage points.

Then in 2014, Crist, as the Democrat nominee for governor, lost to incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott by one percentage point. Hence, since 1998 – after a string of consecutively elected GOP governors – Crist might be the Democratic nominee best suited to thwart DeSantis’s reelection and future Oval Office occupation. But don’t bet on that.

DeSantis, with a 56 percent job approval rating and 38 percent disapproval, is beloved by many Florida Republicans, who assume he’ll become “President DeSantis.” His campaign war chest of $124 million overflows since 42 billionaires from 15 states have opened their wallets with expectations beyond Florida. Even Elon Musk is a fan.

All eyes are watching whether Trump will graciously support and campaign with his home state governor. Or is Trump “taking aim” and “spooked” by DeSantis, as reported this week in Rolling Stone?:

“Donald Trump in recent months has been telling confidants that he may launch his 2024 presidential campaign early — and that he’s considering launching it in Florida to stick it to Gov. Ron DeSantis.” Here is why:

DeSantis’s increasingly frequent fundraising emails emulate Trump’s MAGA-base branding, with the governor wrapping himself in the message mantle of Trumpism without mentioning Trump.  

Recall the Washington Post’s quote: “The couple believes that the governor’s skills are uniquely matched to the current political climate.” That “political climate” is fear of national decline — which Gov. DeSantis has operationalized with his confrontational fight-fight Trump-inspired governing style that the left calls “authoritarian.”  

Here is a preview of DeSantis’s 2024 presidential message doubling as his gubernatorial reelection campaign quoted from recently received emails:

“Our country is currently facing a great threat. A new enemy has emerged from the shadows that seeks to destroy and intimidate their way to a transformed state, and country, that you and I would hardly recognize.”

“This enemy is the radical vigilante woke mob that will steamroll anything and anyone in their way. Their blatant attacks on the American way of life are clear and intensifying: stifling dissent, public shaming, rampant violence, and a perverted version of history. “

“I am choosing to counter this enemy with faith, with reason, and with freedom. As Governor of the Free State of Florida, I have chosen to lead with a vision that builds America up rather than tears it down.”

[Time to…] “fight for the rights you know were given to man by God Himself – the time is now.”

“I promise you; I will never stop fighting.”

Gov. DeSantis’s fighting message, more articulate than Trump’s, is gaining traction. Meanwhile, Predictit, the popular online betting prediction platform, has him edging ahead of Trump for the GOP nomination.  

Casey DeSantis is also a fighter. She recently beat breast cancer with “six rounds of chemotherapy, a surgery, six weeks of radiation” and reentered the campaign trail last month. Fox News reported what Florida’s first lady told the crowd:

[When] “you feel like your back is against the wall, fight! Fight like hell!”

“Never ever give up, never ever back down.”

“I am the testament that God is great, that God is good, and hope is alive.”

Her father told her, “‘Casey, have faith and don’t let the bastards win.’”

That could be DeSantis’s campaign mantra.

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