Ron DeSantis, Tampa, FL
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) speaking with attendees at the 2022 Student Action Summit at the Tampa Convention Center in. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The problem is that it’s Ron DeSantis who is flawed, not the strategy.

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In a bid to jumpstart his fledgling presidential campaign, Ron DeSantis (R) is reportedly considering a change to his media strategy. The plan is for the Florida governor to no longer exclusively appear on right-wing news outlets. That’s a great idea, but it comes with a major flaw. In order to succeed, DeSantis would have to also change everything about himself.

There is a reason why the governor only does interviews with friendly outlets: He is an uncharismatic guy, and his platform only appeals to right-wing voters, which is why he needs softball questions and sympathetic interviewers.

Going on CNN instead of Fox News isn’t going to help with any of that.

Also, it’s not as though the right-wing voters he has to appeal to in order to catch up to former President Donald Trump are regularly tuning in to Anderson Cooper 360°.

At best, DeSantis can hope to get asked reasonable questions about his ridiculous stunts and extreme positions, pretend to be a victim, act like a total jerk, and then creatively edit his appearances to put them on social media.

But that’s not much of a strategy, especially because, while it might offer marginal benefits in the primary, it will backfire in the general election (not that he’ll get there).

However, it also makes sense that the governor’s deep-pocketed donors think that something has to change. After all, who likes to bet on a losing horse?

The problem is that it’s DeSantis who is flawed and not the strategy.

In part, he is a victim of his own hype.

Early polling certainly indicated that he might be a formidable challenger for Trump. Unfortunately for the governor and his supporters, early polling is worthless.

Still, his numbers were good enough to seduce DeSantis into thinking that this could be his time. At the same time, those polls led rich establishment types to think that the governor could be the one to take down Trump.

They were all wrong.

And now it’s too late. If DeSantis’s campaign were going to gain traction, it would have done so already.

This isn’t a new phenomenon, of course.  

We see something like this every four years: A hotshot candidate, quite often a youngish governor with great credentials, enters the race with the full-throated support of the party establishment and the backing of a bunch of billionaires.

Then, when they don’t resonate with voters (usually because they lack charisma), media strategies are changed, campaign managers are replaced, and campaigns are “retooled.”

That’s the phase DeSantis is entering now.

Much later, once tens of millions of dollars have been raised, spent, and wasted, it’s going to dawn on these donors that “their” candidate isn’t good at this at all.

Once we reach that stage, and we are still months away from that, what happens next depends on whether that candidate realizes that they are not cut out for a White House run.

Some of them do. Fellow Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), for example, “suspended” his campaign fairly early in the process.

Others keep hanging on and embarrass themselves long after it becomes clear that they are not going to win.

Somehow, it doesn’t seem likely that DeSantis is capable of that type of introspection. In addition, his campaign motto is to never back down, so what choice does he have?

Therefore, it seems likely that he will hang around a bit longer, embarrass himself, and ruin any chances of a future run.

And just maybe, at some point, he will wonder how it all went so wrong. When that time comes, he can read this tweet from Team Trump, which really sums it all up.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a senior editor for Politics and director of the Mentor Apprentice Program at WhoWhatWhy. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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