Meadows: C'mon, DeSantis won't run against Trump in 2024

AP Photo/Chris Seward

Maybe not — or maybe Donald Trump won’t end up running against Ron DeSantis. On the heels of a convention straw poll showing DeSantis topping the former president in the 2024 primary, former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows says the head-to-head will never happen. Meadows, fresh off a few days with the Florida governor, says DeSantis is entirely focused on his second term:

“Gov. DeSantis has made it very, very clear that he is running for reelection as governor of Florida, but he doesn’t shy away from being very bold in terms of the initiatives that he’s putting forth,” the former House Freedom Caucus chairman stated, citing three days he recently spent with DeSantis in California. “His reelect for governor is a platform to show that the policies, and the boldness, and, quite frankly, the courage.”

“You know, I think Ron DeSantis is identified across the country now for the courage that he shows for conservative solutions, and he would be the first to say that if President Trump gets in, that he would win the nomination and would clear the field, and so I don’t ever see it being a 2016 primary scenario,” Meadows continued. “That being said, Gov. DeSantis won’t even — he’s asked over and over and over again every time I’m in his presence — he’s been asked, ‘Are you running in 2024?'”

“His answer has been consistent: He is running for reelection for governor of the state that not only he loves, but one that is, quite frankly, well run because of his leadership.”

What about Trump? Stay tuned, Meadows tells the Washington Examiner in this exclusive:

Meadows had previously predicted that Trump would indeed run again in 2024, but he told the Washington Examiner not to “anticipate the announcement … in the next 30 to 60 days.”

Perhaps Meadows has some special insight into DeSantis that the rest of us lack, so it’s entirely possible that he’s correct. However, politics — especially in the social-media age — has serious expiration dates. A politician building a case for national leadership can’t wait six years to put that case to the voters. One can even make the case that DeSantis might be peaking a bit too soon for 2024, especially for an owning-the-libs platform, although he should easily get a second term in which to keep fueling those fires.

If DeSantis wants to grab the presidential brass ring at all, he’ll have to do it in 2024. By 2028, all of his victories in the COVID-19 pandemic debates will be old news. A second term might provide some negatives too, especially if the economy starts to falter in Florida or a natural disaster takes things out of DeSantis’ hands. There is no upside to waiting for 2028 and all sorts of potential downsides. The only way DeSantis doesn’t run in 2024 is if he wasn’t interested in the job in the first place.

What about Trump? He’ll run if he’s able in 2024, and straw-poll results aside, he’d start off as the primary favorite. But that’s if he’s able. Trump’s legal woes might ripen between then and now too in New York, for one thing. Also, Trump will be 78 in 2024, the same age as Biden is now. Trump has a lot more energy than Biden does and may still by 2023 when the primary debates begin, but that’s not a sure bet. In two years, without the energy he gets from social-media platforms, Trump could be a spent force.

Even putting that aside, though, Trump won’t come into the 2024 cycle as a fresh voice and an outsider. He will come in as the GOP establishment leader, carrying a lot of baggage over the aftermath of the 2020 election and the January 6 Capitol riot. Even within the GOP, there will be a serious lack of enthusiasm for his candidacy, not to mention within the general electorate. It’s the kind of candidacy that should get a serious test before the party inks the ticket — and right now, DeSantis looks like the only candidate within the GOP who could provide that serious test.