Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is widely seen as Donald Trump's biggest threat for the Republican presidential nomination, but panelists on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" agreed he would have trouble in the general election because he seems like a "jerk."
The GOP governor won re-election in November but is expected to enter the 2024 White House race, and The Atlantic's David Frum said he has the same problem that many GOP candidates have in the post-Donald Trump era, when conservatives rally behind primary candidates who repel Democratic and independent voters.
"Now, just ask yourself, have you ever seen Gov. DeSantis in anything like a good mood in any of the images you have seen of him?" Frum said. "Does he ever look warm or someone happy to see you? Does he kiss the baby or does he punch the baby in the face? He's a very intelligent person, he's obviously thought about this. He may have a dyspeptic personality, but at least other politicians with dyspeptic personalities pretend to be happy to see the baby."
"I think he made a calculation: 'My voters want performative rage, they don't want a speech about immigration policy, cram 40 frightened people on a jet and send them somewhere,'" Frum added. "'They don't want me to talk about the future of race relations in America, and maybe there are things that Republicans don't like and things have gone too far. No, they want to see me do stunts on college campuses because I'm going to perform the feeling they have. I'm not going to give them a thing -- they don't care about things. I will be their voice of anger, sense of loss, of sense of grievance.'"
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Host Joe Scarborough agreed, but said that act could only win over about 37 percent or 38 percent of Americans, according to polls, and he doubted that was a path to the White House.
"I talk about the laws of gravity returning to politics, returning to law, returning to criminal indictments, it's the same thing with campaigning," Scarborough said. "You know, being a jerk was never a big winner in campaigning for office, and this is such a great point. They think being a jerk is going to help get you elected. Listen, you can build a cottage industry with a podcast being a jerk, and a lot of people are doing that, and so, they make their millions. But you can't win nationally -- Donald Trump did it in 2016, and it was lightning in a bottle."
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