Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is the preferred Trump foe of the Republican establishment. Both the donor class and media outlets (notably those owned by Rupert Murdoch) have rallied around DeSantis as a figure who can unite the party by adopting the policies of Donald Trump but without Trump’s embarrassing personal flaws. But their theory of DeSantis isn’t working out: he’s faltering in the polls and some of his major supporters are starting to waver. Other Trump rivals, like former vice president Mike Pence, are also having trouble gaining traction.
Writing in The New Republic, Alex Shepard cogently noted that DeSantis and other would-be Republican presidential nominees face the same difficulty that candidates like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz did in 2016: They’re afraid to alienate Trump’s passionate base of support, so they can’t fully challenge him. This makes them look weak when Trump attacks them in the most lurid and contemptuous ways imaginable. In this podcast, Alex and I survey the GOP primary race with a focus on why Trump remains the man to beat.
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