Trump has a 5-point attack plan designed to annihilate DeSantis as a presidential candidate: report
SUNRISE, FLORIDA - Donald Trump introduces Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during a homecoming campaign rally at the BB&T; Center on November 26, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Among political pundits, there has been a great deal of debate on how well Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will perform against former President Donald Trump in the 2024 GOP presidential primary — that is, assuming that DeSantis decides to run.

Never Trump conservative Rick Wilson (a former Republican strategist) and "Real Time" host Bill Maher both view Trump as the likely nominee; right-wing firebrand author Ann Coulter, on the other hand, is a former Trump supporter turned scathing Trump critic who is very bullish on DeSantis and believes that Trump is "done" and "over" in the Republican Party.

Wilson, in an interview with The Guardian, predicted that Trump will crush DeSantis in the primary when the reelected Florida governor feels the full weight of Trump's cruelty and viciousness. Trump has recently stepped up his attacks on DeSantis, and a report published by Axios on March 3 describes the ex-president's anti-DeSantis game plan.

According to Axios reporters Mike Allen and Josh Kraushaar, Trump "is convinced his attacks on Ron DeSantis are chipping away at the Florida governor's support and confidence, sources and friends familiar with Trump's thinking say." And Trump "hopes to scare DeSantis out of running, or at least damage him if he follows through on signs he will enter the race."

Trump, Allen and Kraushaar report, hopes to bring down DeSantis as a possible presidential candidate by "branding him" in "five areas," which are: (1) "DeSantis' past support for changes to Social Security and Medicare," (2) DeSantis' "disloyalty to Trump after he helped DeSantis get elected governor in 2018," (3) "cast DeSantis as a lackey of former House Speaker Paul Ryan," (4) "DeSantis' response to COVID," and (5) "portray DeSantis as wishy-washy on the war" in Ukraine.

Trump plays hardball, but how effective the five-point line of attack that Axios describes will be against DeSantis remains to be seen.

An anonymously-quoted source described by Allen and Kraushaar as a "Trump confidant" told Axios, "There's a pre-Trump Ron, and there's a post-Trump Ron. He used to be a Reagan Republican. That's where he comes from. He's now awkwardly trying to square his views up with the populist nationalist feeling of that party."