Political insiders say Trump remains the Republican favorite until he's not, although some GOP donors have already said they're backing the Florida governor over the former president, and some believe DeSantis can weaken and wear down Trump by essentially ignoring him until the primary campaign begins in earnest, reported Politico.
“Because then it’s just a crazy old man fighting with himself,” said one Florida-based GOP strategist.
“If I were him, I’d just keep my mouth shut,” agreed one former Trump adviser.
“It’ll drive Trump a little nuts,” another said.
While some Republicans, including former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg, believe DeSantis is "Trump's worst nightmare," because he's younger and carries less political baggage, others just don't think the governor has the juice.
“Picture them on the debate stage: DeSantis squat, dour and angry, as Trump towers over him physically,” said Mac Stipanovich, a veteran GOP operative who left the party out of disgust for Trump. “DeSantis is not without talents, but agility and improvisation are not among them. He is an engineer, not an artist.”
Rick Wilson, another Florida-based GOP operative who left the party over Trump, tried to envision a scenario where DeSantis did take down the former president.
“Let’s say you beat him," Wilson said. "Let’s say you whip his ass so bad in every debate. Let’s say he sh*ts the bed in every debate and DeSantis is articulate and brilliant and funny and does all the things that you would need to do to convince primary voters."
"Let’s say that happens,” Wilson added. "What does Donald Trump do?”
Wilson simply couldn't picture a scenario where Trump walked away graciously in defeat.
“Donald Trump [won't say], ‘I was beaten, fair and square, by this brilliant young man, Ron DeSantis, I believe that he is the future of our party and our country, I look forward to doing everything I can to ensure that he is elected president in 2024, and because of that I’m turning over my email lists and my political operations to do whatever I can to help him win,’” Wilson said.
“He is a political suicide bomber,” Wilson added. “All Trump has to do is say, ‘OK, you don’t like me? I’m going to run as an independent.’”
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