Wednesday, May 24, 2023
VICTOR JOECKS: What DeSantis needs to do to defeat Trump
But today, it’s DeSantis who is leading on conservative priorities. That includes policy wins on school choice, illegal immigration and stopping the mutilation of children. It also includes cultural battles. DeSantis is fighting Disney after the company opposed legislation preventing the sexual indoctrination of small children. Trump sided with Disney. DeSantis cheered the conservative boycott against Bud Light. Trump has been uncharacteristically restrained in his comments.
Their respective COVID responses offer another contrast. DeSantis did briefly shutter Florida — on the advice of the Trump administration. But he reopened it shortly thereafter, triggering waves of media criticism. Right before leaving office, however, Trump gave a presidential commendation to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Unlike in 2016, Trump polls best with “very conservative” voters. If DeSantis highlights how he’s more conservative than Trump on many key issues, expect that to change. He must avoid attacking Trump on issues, such as the New York criminal case, where Trump’s voters believe he’s being unjustly targeted.
DeSantis also needs to out-organize Trump. That appears to be happening in Iowa. Expect him to a have a robust operation in many Super Tuesday states. DeSantis has had success convincing some would-be presidential candidates to stay out. Getting Sen. Tim Scott, another newly announced contender and potential DeSantis VP candidate, to aim his fire at Trump would help, too.