Newsmax host: "Career politician" Ron DeSantis needs to stand aside for Trump in 2024

I can’t find an embeddable clip but you can watch the segment in full at the Daily Beast. It’s unconvincing all the way through, so much so that it can only have been meant for a so-called audience of one at Mar-a-Lago. Greg Kelly and Newsmax pay attention to Fox News; they know that Fox has been promoting DeSantis for months; they also know, or safely assume, that Trump resents Fox for trying to push him aside for the new guy; and so they’re trying to exploit that rift to ingratiate themselves to the big dog.

Who still leads nearly every GOP primary poll comfortably, by the way. Although DeSantis has gained on Trump, if you had to bet today on which of them will be nominee in 2024, you’d bet on 45. That’s what Newsmax is doing, and hoping that Trump rewards them with more access than Fox enjoys if and when he’s president again.

Granted, that’s just a theory. But some of Greg Kelly’s arguments for sticking with Trump are so lame that he can’t possibly believe them.

Kelly then dug in, arguing that, unlike Trump, DeSantis could be considered a “career politician.”

“Let’s see, he’s forty-three now, on Election Day in November of 2024, he would be forty-five years old. Now, here’s the thing. That makes him, what, three decades younger then-President Trump. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, I’m saying he’s got plenty of time ahead of him to make his move, but not now, and there are some things he needs to clean up,” the primetime Newsmax host said. “Just a little bit.”

The Newsmax host added that in 2018, he believed DeSantis should have easily defeated then-Democratic candidate, Andrew Gillum. Yet, instead, he said DeSantis was “nervous” and “fidgety” during a debate.

“I think he [DeSantis] needs work on that,” he added.

Gillum led in virtually every poll of Florida in 2018, sometimes by margins of seven points. Literally no one thought DeSantis should have beaten him easily, particularly in a Democratic wave year.

In fact, let’s take Kelly’s arguments from the segment in turn:

1. As a young man, DeSantis should put his family first instead of running for office. If Kelly really thinks that, presumably he also thinks DeSantis should resign as governor. Imagine complaining about a potential president’s youth, though, at a moment when the commander-in-chief is about to turn 80, the top Republican in the Senate is over 80, the top three Democrats in the House are over 80, and Donald Trump would turn 80 as president if he were to be elected again in 2024. Kelly’s the only man in America at this point who thinks a young, mentally sharp guy in the White House would be a bad thing.

2. Because he’s young, DeSantis can afford to wait his turn. This is nonsense, as anyone who’s followed Chris Christie’s career knows. When you’re a hot commodity in your party, that’s when you run for president. If you wait, you’re apt to find that your star has dimmed and the base has moved on to new heroes by the time you’re finally ready. If DeSantis waits until 2028, he’ll be out of office for two years by the time the primaries start. By then, all sorts of newbie politicians — J.D. Vance and maybe Blake Masters, for instance — will have had time to build bases of support and will be looking to out-nationalist the rest of the presidential field. He’d be a fool to give them that opportunity.

3. Democrats are pursuing the January 6 hearings because they fear running against Trump but not DeSantis. This is the opposite of true. An 82-year-old incumbent with a sub-40 percent job approval rating would lose to any generic Republican. But Trump is the least generic Republican there is, the one big-name politician in America who could turn what should be a referendum on Biden’s presidency in 2024 into a referendum on whether we want the architect of “stop the steal” back in the White House. The January 6 hearings are a sincere attempt to warn Republicans not to tempt fate by going down that path again, even if doing so would raise Dems’ odds of winning the election somewhat. There’s no universe in which Trump is more electable than DeSantis.

4. Trump is leading Biden head to head. Kelly flashes a poll at one point that shows Trump up 44-39 over Sleepy Joe. But the fact that he can’t muster even 45 percent against a guy with as much baggage as Biden has due to inflation, gas prices, and widespread suspicions about his senility is the strongest evidence yet that Republicans would be nutty to nominate him again. Inasmuch as DeSantis trails Biden head to head, it’s because only political junkies have the slightest idea who he is. Everyone knows who Trump is — and he’s still below 50 percent running against an incumbent who’s having the worst stretch politically of any president since Bush’s second term.

5. DeSantis is a career politician and we don’t need any more of those. DeSantis first ran for office in 2012. Trump first ran for office in 2015. It’s true that Trump had another career for many years before he ran, unlike DeSantis, but so what? If DeSantis had hosted a game show for a decade, would that suddenly make him presidential material?

Don’t take Kelly too seriously, then. I assume this is a simple matter of him following the news that Trump is likely to declare his candidacy soon and wanting to earn some brownie points at an opportune moment by nudging DeSantis to make way:

One GOP source familiar with those conversations was told that Trump was considering announcing as soon as the first week of July, while others in his orbit cautioned that he does not currently have the infrastructure in place for a major campaign announcement and “doesn’t want this to be a dud,” as a person close to Trump described it…

“He’s sounding a lot more committed lately,” added another person close to Trump…

“He knows that if he announces [a run for president] he’ll be center stage again,” giving him the opportunity to rival the hearings, one source told CNN…

One source said Trump “wants to clear the field and dare other people to run against him.”

He’s not going to clear the field. A year ago I thought he might, but it seems certain that Mike Pence is going to run. And once Trump has one challenger willing to take him on, he’ll have others. No one wants to be the sole target of his and MAGA’s wrath, but if there are 10 or 15 targets that’s less of a deterrent.

Here’s Liz Cheney framing the stakes for 2024. Exit question: Is Glenn Youngkin running for (vice) president? If the Trump/DeSantis battle gets nasty, it might put Trump off of having DeSantis as his VP. Youngkin will be there to fill the vacuum.