Bye, bye Ron

I can’t say that I was surprised that Ron DeSantis dropped out of the Republican presidential race. Even before he ran, I wrote that he would be foolish to challenge serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT) and that he would be better served by sitting this one out and campaigning hard for SSAT this time because, whether SSAT won or lost, 2028 would be an open race. He could then reap the rewards of MAGA cult loyalty in that race, rather than alienating them this year.

But my prediction that he would fail was based on strategic reasoning. What I had not anticipated was that he would be such a lousy campaigner, so wooden and anti-charismatic on the stump, and have nothing really to offer. His easy re-election victory for governor of Florida seemed to make him think that being ‘anti-woke’ (whatever the hell that means) was his path to victory on the national stage. While that may have been of a somewhat catchy slogan, in terms of policies, it only translates into some culture war issues, such as banning books and fighting over bathroom access for transgender students that he carried to extremes, that may have excited some people but really did not have relevance to most people. Furthermore, carrying his anti-woke crusade into a fight with the Disney corporation, the state’s biggest employer, tended to alienate the business community.

This article describes all the other things that went wrong with his campaign.

DeSantis’s hard-right agenda ran into trouble as he chose to take on Disney, a dominant employer in Florida, over its opposition to his “don’t say gay” policy regarding LGBTQ+ issues in schools. Generating a string of stories, scandals and lawsuits over book bans in school libraries, the subject continued to dog the campaign.

In May the launch of that campaign, a Twitter Spaces session with Elon Musk, descended into farce as the platform glitched and buckled. The event host, the donor David Sacks, claimed: “We got so many people here that we are kind of melting the servers, which is a good sign.” Few observers agreed.

On the campaign trail in the months that followed, the governor came across as stilted and awkward. For a campaign focused on social media and the influencers who lurk there, the resultant string of mocking memes and threads could not have been in the plan.

Nor could a summer fiasco over bizarre campaign videos, posted to social media and featuring far-right, white supremacist, Nazi and arguably homoerotic imagery. A firing followed but the campaign’s image had taken another big blow, reports of fundraising problems appearing.

There was a scandal over an attempt to change history teaching in state schools, regarding the place of slavery in Florida’s past. There were attempts to troll Democrats on immigration, including sending undocumented migrants to Democratic-run states by bus or plane. That policy ended up in the courts as well.

After dropping out, DeSantis has already begun the process of repairing relations with the MAGA crowd in preparation for 2028. He has endorsed SSAT and we can expect to see him obsequiously groveling before him over and over again, despite the sneering insults that SSAT lobbed at him time and again. It will be Ted Cruz all over again. And we will see that repeated with Nikki Haley when it is her turn to drop out.

So goodbye, Ron. I only wish the door could be locked behind you after you left the room.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Unfortunately for Florida, our misgovernor will likely turn his full attention here for the next three years. :-O

    One rumor has it that Ron will try for Rick Scott’s Senate seat in ’26: a perfect example of the scorpion-&-tarantula-in-a-jar scenario.

  2. jenorafeuer says

    There was a Vox article recently called Ron DeSantis got the Republican Party wrong. Basic gist of it: DeSantis’ campaign was geared towards a particular subset of voters:
    -- People seriously invested in culture war issues
    -- People who felt the party needed somebody who could look more attached to reality than Trump
    What that boils down to is that DeSantis’ campaign was geared towards a lot of the conservative fundraiser and think tank crowd… and nobody else of note. Among the rank and file of the current GOP base, who’s going to be interested in a cut-rate less-ranty Trump when the real and more energizing thing is right there?

  3. birgerjohansson says

    DeSantis has to step down as governor two years before the next presidential election (Florida governor cannot serve more than two terms).

    Two years without the limelight is an eternity in politics. He will not be able to compete with the new names in the Republican field. This is why he went all in this year.
    This might also explain why
    he did nothing to prevent energy and housing costs to explode in Florida- that would have made him impopular with the corporate interests whose campaign contributions he would need.

  4. says

    I can’t believe I was once worried about a DeSantis presidency because he’d be smarter than SSAT, but then we got to know him better on the US national stage and no, he’s not. And Marcus brought up Ted Cruz in the first comment. I never thought I’d see someone with less charisma than Cruz, but DeSantas managed that incredible feat. There is no chance he will ever be president. It turns out that the reason conservatives love him is just his willingness to let people die of Covid and his embracing of fascism and the full on cruelty that comes with it.

  5. sonofrojblake says

    @5: I can believe you were worried.

    I’ve seen it suggested that, right now, pulling out is his best play… He’s got the recognition now. He never had a chance while Trump was in the race, but endorsing him for ten months will place him well to step back up when the Don dies/has a stroke/gets convicted/is otherwise disqualified before November.

    Personally I don’t credit him with the wit to make that calculation, but it’s possible that smarter people around him have.

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