Finally: The first “DeSantis 2024” campaign ad

Yes, yes, fine, this is technically a DeSantis 2022 campaign ad, harvested from his recent “State of the State” address. He still needs to win reelection as governor before he can consider higher office.

But the Right Scoop is correct that this might easily double as a 2024 GOP primary ad.

You could have this guy instead of Trump. Think it over!

Damon Linker is thinking it over and wondering how DeSantis or anyone else can successfully navigate the inevitable debate question about whether the 2020 election was stolen.

What exactly is DeSantis supposed to say in response? One option would be to answer truthfully — which is to say, in the negative: No, the election wasn’t stolen, and Biden won fair and square. But this would automatically place DeSantis on the opposite side of that 71 percent of Republicans and open him up to an onslaught of abuse from Trump himself. DeSantis would be labeled a cuck and a weakling who refuses to fight and would let the Democrats get away with murder from Day One of a DeSantis administration.

If, instead, DeSantis offered a tepid endorsement of the election fraud conspiracy, voters will be left to wonder why they should favor that second-best alternative over the man who was personally stabbed in the back and craves vengeance for himself and his party.

Then there’s the most standard-issue-politician thing DeSantis could do, which is attempt to skirt the question and pivot to another, less politically perilous topic. But there is zero chance Trump would let him get away with that. He’d merely treat it as a different kind of confirmation that DeSantis is too weak to fight the ruthless Democrats to the death.

True, Trump wouldn’t let DeSantis get away with dodging. But would MAGA? If they prefer the governor on the merits, and they should, it’d be easy enough for them to say, “Look, the election’s in the past. We need a candidate who’s focused on the future.” They might even give DeSantis a pass on electability grounds, reasoning that of course he privately believes the election was stolen but has to pretend that it might not have been in order to stay viable with swing voters.

Frankly, if Trump’s still caterwauling about a rigged election in 2024, even some Trumpers might start getting Captain Queeg vibes from him. Especially if there’s a younger, more polished candidate willing to take it to the left for them instead.

Personally, I’m interested in hearing more from this guy, who hasn’t let his thirstiness for MAGA approval steer him away from traditional conservative principles:

[Chris] Sununu, on the other hand, has chosen a classically conservative path: Let local governments, individual businesses, and school districts choose the best path for themselves. Most of the state’s public schools still have mask requirements in place, for example, but they’re each free to make their own policies.

“When you tell people they must [do something], right there you’ve broken the third rail. It’s now big government intervening. There are a lot of things I want businesses to do, but that doesn’t mean I pass a law and force them to do it. It’s reactionary,” Sununu told National Journal. “I don’t believe in government-driven vaccine mandates, but businesses have already had the right to impose a vaccine requirement for their employers way before we even heard the word COVID.”

Sununu added: “That opens a Pandora’s box, setting a precedent for government control of businesses. And I’m fundamentally against that.”

Good for him. But he’s a nonstarter in a primary. Partly that’s because he cares little for grandstanding in populist media, which is the only way to get traction nationally in the GOP nowadays. Partly too it’s because he eschews the “own the libs” approach to politics that defines the party now more than any policy agenda does. E.g.:

The governor said the message from virtually every GOP senator he chatted with — and he chatted with most of them — was that they plan to do little more with the majority they are fighting to win this November than obstruct President Joe Biden until, “hopefully,” 2024 ushers a Republican into the White House. “It bothered me that they were OK with that,” Sununu said.

More than that, Sununu was “bothered” by Republicans’ seeming inability to answer this question: “I said, ‘OK, so if we’re going to get stuff done if we win the White House back, why didn’t you do it in 2017 and 2018?’” How did the Republicans Sununu spoke with answer his challenge? “Crickets. Yeah, crickets,” the governor said. “They had no answer.”

Mainly, though, he’s DOA in a primary because he’s suspect on abortion. He keeps signing abortion restrictions into law but has described himself as pro-choice in the recent past. National Republican voters will demand better than that.

Like … this guy, maybe? No wonder Trump feels threatened by him.

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