Ron DeSantis, rally, Sarasota, FL.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to a crowd of supporters during a re-election campaign rally. (Credit Image: © Dominic Gwinn/ZUMA Press Wire)

With not much left to lose, Ron DeSantis is giving honesty a shot in an effort to put a dent in Donald Trump’s primary lead.

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In an effort to defeat frontrunner Donald Trump in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking baby steps toward embarking on a more confrontational course with the former president. In recent days, he has not only begun telling the truth about the 2020 election, which is a risky move in today’s reality-deprived GOP, but he also suggested that Republicans would lose again next year if the election becomes a referendum on Trump’s grievances.

Even though he has been dropping in the polls and his campaign never really got on track, DeSantis is widely considered to be the one candidate who might be able to challenge Trump due to his national profile, his bona fides as a culture warrior, and the backing of a very well-funded super PAC.

While it still seems extremely unlikely that DeSantis could dethrone the former president, he appears to want to give it a try and at least go down fighting.

For example, he recently noted that the various theories that Trump had offered to “prove” that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him, a.k.a. The Big Lie,“did not prove to be true.” 

Although the governor’s statement is demonstrably true, it is a perilous thing to say for a Republican these days because it runs counter to what conservative voters have been conditioned to believe. 

Still, DeSantis doubled down on his (completely accurate) statement.  

In an interview with NBC that aired Monday, he reiterated that “of course [Trump] lost.”

Then, DeSantis embarked on another collision course with the former president when he outlined his views on what the upcoming election should be about. 

While Trump, as a classic narcissist, wants to make it about his various grievances, especially the Big Lie, and the many ways in which he feels like the victim of political persecution as his legal troubles pile up, DeSantis believes that this will doom the GOP’s chances. 

“If the election is a referendum on Joe Biden’s policies and the failures that we’ve seen, and we are presenting a positive vision for the future, we will win the presidency and we will have a chance to turn the country around,” he said. 

That alone puts him at odds with Trump, who has nothing resembling a positive vision. 

But DeSantis went a step further. 

“If, on the other hand, the election is not about January 20, 2025, but January 6, 2021, or what document was left by the toilet at Mar-a-Lago, if it’s a referendum on that, we are going to lose,” he said.

Trump, of course, wants to talk about nothing else. If you give him a microphone and an adoring crowd, he will talk endlessly about both of these things. 

It is also a pretty snide remark for any Republican to make about the former president, so kudos to DeSantis for giving this honesty strategy a shot. That probably won’t work, but it will at least make the Republican primary a lot more entertaining. 

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