Unless DeSantis can break from the Republican pack before it becomes a Pack, he needs to do two things: Give Trump supporters a reason to go to him, and keep cutting him to size, obliquely.
DeSantis is surging as of today: holding rallies, staying visible, being available for give and take, tons of energy. He is also talking about policy, which is a strong suit. Trump is weak right now on both, canceling events and, well, on the best day of his life he was never good with details on policy.
DeSantis will be asked pointedly about Trump, and he should have a canned, but bold, response.
“Don’s time has come and gone. You can’t argue his successes in office, but they are marred, fatally, by his buffoonery, speaking loose and misguided on the facts, and generally winging it. His campaign schtick of mockery is no longer bold… it is just old. Really old.
“Don has, however, been targeted politically by the FBI, the Justice Department, and the media. Those three separate and distinct institutions should have stayed neutral and been doing their respective jobs in investigation, prosecuting, and publishing facts. Those three institutions have failed us, not once, but several times over, especially in the indecent, unfair, and unjust treatment of my old friend Don.
“Don exacerbates this, certainly. And he has some moral responsibility to the rabid fanaticism that came about on January 6th of 2021. Given the lengthy prison sentences of some of his former supporters, Don should not qualify for future service as commander in chief: Don has left a lot of men and women behind.
“If elected, I promise to pardon Don of all allegations made to this point regarding FBI and Justice department investigations. He should be allowed to retire. Don can then stop paying lawyers and just focus on paying his creditors. Let him go in peace.
“And I promise to swiftly bring the Biden criminal syndicate to heel and justic
e. You can count on it.
“And from now on I am not discussing Don and his many many problems. I am listening to the American people about theirs, and discussing solutions everyone can live with, together.”
Several things happen at once:
Trump loses his mind.
Other Republican candidates will either support DeSantis or condemn Trump completely. There will be no middle ground: condemning DeSantis now will smack of licking Trump’s boots. No serious Republican candidate can risk alienating Trump voters or sounding like a Democrat.
Trump goes searching for his mind.
The media will feed on this for the entire cycle through January 2025. They may ridicule DeSantis, but they are complicit in the political witch-hunt of impeaching Trump twice and the serial investigations going on in different jurisdictions. Only partisan Democrats have an interest in a Trump show. The rest of us want him to go away.
The Democrats spit bile. The old Hillary/Pelosi/Schiff/FBI cabal was proven wrong and complicit in lies and falsehoods that almost brought our nation to its knees. The new Biden crime syndicate will be on notice that they should have their passports up to date.
Trump can pay his creditors.
DeSantis needs to keep Trump cut down to size, too. Just refer to him as “my old friend Don” or “my ex-friend Don” always with a smile on his face.
Keep that subtle and consistent.
I can hear the rally cry now: “PARDON OUR OLD FRIEND DON!”