In an open letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis , erstwhile conservative columnist Matt Lewis told the Florida Republican that, if he is serious about pursuing the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, he better be girding his loins for a full-on assault from Donald Trump.
To this end, Lewis says that if there is anything in DeSantis' past that could be used as a cudgel against him, he needs to get it out now before the former president can weaponize it.
Using his Daily Beast soapbox, Lewis urged DeSantis to not engage in mud-slinging with Trump -- something the former president excels at -- but he should be prepared to take a "big swing" at Trump when the opportunity arises.
Earlier in the week, Trump obliquely inferred the former governor was a "groomer" preying on teen girls when he was a teacher, which led Lewis to remind DeSantis there is no bottom when it comes to Trump smears.
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According to Lewis, Trump's latest attack on his top challenger for the GOP nomination is worrisome.
"Does Trump’s latest allegation fit into the category of Ted Cruz’s dad being part of the Kennedy assassination, or is there even a hint of something more that might come out later?" he wrote. "Remember, it doesn’t matter that Donald Trump has done everything you will be accused of doing—and worse. Trump’s credibility is not based on him being moral or competent, nor is his utility premised on him avoiding drama."
He then added, "The problem with casting yourself as 'Trump without the baggage' is that the claim disappears the moment your baggage appears. Then the contrast becomes muddied, and your raison d'être collapses. Donald Trump is a master chef of mud pies."
With that in mind, Lewis said it's important for DeSantis to come clean and suggested thorough opposition research on himself as is customary in most campaigns.
"It goes without saying that every serious campaign must conduct 'opposition research' on themselves," he wrote before adding, "Lethal information is cause enough for a candidate to sit out a race. But even questionable actions must be disclosed to your team so that they can preempt an attack and/or be prepared to respond quickly. So if there is even a hint of truth to this, have that talk with your wife and top advisors right now."
Lewis then offered some unsolicited strategic advice for the Florida governor.
"Your goal is to match or 'hug' Trump in areas where he is popular with the Republican primary electorate, while simultaneously contrasting him in areas that favor you," he wrote. "This is obviously something you keenly understand. But it doesn’t end there. Winning the presidency will likely require going into the fall of 2023 with a majority of the Trump coalition behind you and the ability to bring home wayward Never Trump conservatives like yours truly."
You can read his whole piece here.