I’ve been telling people for most of the year that I consider Ron DeSantis to be the odds-on favorite — not a guarantee, not a prohibitive favorite, but the favorite — to win the Republican presidential nomination. Usually they nod and then add something like, “But not if Trump runs, right?” “Yes,” I reply, “even if Trump runs.” Then they look at me like I’m crazy.
Tuesday night, my view began to look a little less crazy. The Murdoch-owned media, very much including Fox News, unleashed an undisguised propaganda blitz to convince its audience that Trump is the source of the party’s struggles and DeSantis represents its future. Trump’s angry response is a measure of how seriously he takes the threat to steer the base away from him. Many journalists registered surprise at the bluntness of the chorus blaming Trump. Yet the prospects for a DeSantis nomination, and the changes beneath the surface that have made it relatively likely, have not been fully appreciated outside the Republican world.
For one thing, the Murdoch-owned media, and many other legacy conservative-media outlets, like National Review, have never fully supported Trump. They defended him against Democrats while wishing the party would nominate somebody else. This has meant, in other words, that they would criticize some of his excesses, even while insisting the Democrats were worse. During moments when Republicans had the opportunity to wrest leadership of the party from his hands, like during the 2016 primary campaign and in the days after January 6, they would even savage him. But when his leadership of the party went unchallenged, they would mute their criticism and fall dutifully in line. [Continue reading…]
The chickens have come home to roost for Donald Trump in Pennsylvania. After he stuck his nose in the state’s Republican primary process last May against the guidance of his most loyal advisers, many of his once-devoted followers say they are done with the former president.
Trump backed far-right nationalist Doug Mastriano for governor and celebrity heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz for US Senate in this state over much more logical choices — in Oz’s case, businessman and politician David McCormick. And both lost to Democrats on Tuesday.
Their losses had a ripple effect down-ballot, costing the Republicans not just a US Senate seat they once held as well as the governor’s office, but also three seats in the House of Representatives that were up for grabs plus the majority in the statehouse.
Former Trump senior adviser David Urban — whose expertise in state politics was invaluable in his victory in the Keystone State six years ago — said everyone is telling him it is time for the former president to step aside. [Continue reading…]