The DeSantis-Scott edition.
1. What If DeSantis Goes to Zero?
Tara Palmeri went up to New Hampshire to see Ron DeSantis, who may or may not officially declare this week:
On television, DeSantis can come across as savvy, reasonably well media-trained, and sometimes aggressive. (His wife, Casey, is a former local news anchor.) But in person, I immediately sensed a very different potential candidate: a guarded politician who had no interest in actually engaging with other humans, and was perhaps even a little scared of the spotlight. He had trouble making eye contact with people in the crowd. After five minutes of unmemorable remarks, we were quickly ushered out of the room . . .
As our small pool rushed over to the diner, however, DeSantis quickly bypassed the press . . . When I entered the crowded joint, I tried a more straightforward, if simple, query: “Governor DeSantis, why won’t you talk to the press?” This time DeSantis licked his lips nervously, and made sure not to look my way.
He immediately showed off his very limited retail skills. He asked one patron, “What’s your name?” The man responded, “Tim Anthony.” DeSantis just responded: “Ok!” and moved on. . . .
It was my first personal observation of what DeSantis’s critics mean when they call him a paper tiger . . .
It’s one of the few conclusions I could draw after witnessing his poor performance at the Red Arrow diner, a low-wattage stage brimming with sycophants; or after his meeting with New Hampshire legislators, where, I heard, he apparently rambled on about his own Florida delegation, which is overwhelmingly Republican and less complicated to handle than New Hampshire’s. He was, I hate to say it, sanctimonious about his record, according to people in the room.
And now ask yourself, what are the possibilities for a DeSantis campaign? To my mind, there are three:
(1) Victory. DeSantis finds his footing. He closes the gap with Trump enough to be plausible. Then he wins Iowa and slingshots to a strong Super Tuesday showing and grinds out a delegate win over the long haul. Maybe he pops on his own. Maybe he gets help from a Trump legal and/or health event.
(2) Stasis. He remains the clear #2 option and never gets too aggressive, preserving his viability for 2028. He’s the understudy, but doesn’t get called to take the stage. He bows out as soon as it’s logical and is the good soldier for Trump.
(3) Implosion. Why is it that we believe DeSantis isn’t a stock that could go to zero? Who is his base? Anti-anti-Trump conservative elites. Those are the people who are ride-or-die with him. Everyone else is just a Republican who kinda likes him from his Fox hits, but is mostly just looking for the most electable candidate who can do Trumpism.
What’s the natural floor for a political commodity like that? Could he fall to 15 percent? I think so. And because his appeal is based around electability, then if DeSantis falls that far, what’s to stop the spiral? If the electable candidate doesn’t look electable then he has very little to prop him up.
I should be clear that I don’t think this is the likely scenario. But neither do I think it’s a 1-in-100 long shot, either.
And I’m not the only one. (👀Hint: He’s a self-funding, term-limited Gov from a mid-Atlantic state.)
2. Great Scott
I love that Tim Scott is running for president. Seriously. When the New
Jersey York Republican primary rolls around, I will definitely consider voting for him, for two reasons: