Ron DeSantis Was Destined to Lose

Ron DeSantis 2024 All Over

Ron DeSantis Was Destined to Lose

Ron DeSantis was running a passionless passion play. Even Casey DeSantis was unable to solve the problem. If anything, her appearances on the stump highlighted her spouse’s frozen personality.


In bowing out from the presidential race today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis yielded to the inevitable. His campaign began with a botched rollout on “X” with Elon Musk and ended with a plaintive statement. “If there was anything I could do to produce a favorable outcome—more campaign, stops, more interview—I would do it, but I can’t ask our supporters to volunteer their time and donate their resources if we don’t have a path to victory,” he wrote. In endorsing Trump, he threw in a dig at Haley, declaring “can’t go back to the old Republican guard of yesteryear, a repackaged form of warmed-over corporatism that Nikki Haley represents.”

Ron DeSantis Had No Shot 

No one can accuse DeSantis of failing to pull out all the stops. He turned Florida, as far as possible, into an incubator for an authoritarian federal government, inviting Hungarian government officials to the state, cracking down on New College, harassing Disney, and banning books, among other things. He earned hosannas from the conservative elite for his pugnacity but was never able to translate it into a winning campaign message.


DeSantis was running a passionless passion play. Even Casey DeSantis was unable to solve the problem. If anything, her appearances on the stump highlighted her spouse’s frozen personality. It was as though Botox had been injected into his personality. With his habitual cunning, Trump diagnosed the problem early on, referring to DeSantis as “DeSanctimonious.”

The difference was palpable. Trump delivers his zany pronouncements with the flair of a carnival barker. DeSantis simply sounded like he was barking mad.

For Trump, DeSantis’ concession, or, if you prefer, capitulation, couldn’t come soon enough. He has never had any intention of campaigning for the Republican nomination. Instead, he is intent on a coronation, which is what he will likely receive. Senator Tim Scott’s fulsome tribute to Trump in New Hampshire was emblematic of the kind of deference that he expects from the GOP’s pooh-bahs. Earlier in January, after House Majority Whip Tom Emmer endorsed him, Trump observed, “They always bend the knee.”

The next person who will likely contort herself is Nikki Haley, whom Trump has been trashing this past week. Right now, Haley is attacking Trump for cozying up to dictators: “You can’t have someone who’s trying to buddy up with dictators that want to kill us,” Haley said on Face the Nation. “Instead, you have to let them know what we expect of them. That’s the difference.” But if the polls are reliable—and there is no reason to expect that they aren’t—Trump will crush her in New Hampshire before moving on to her home state of South Carolina. Haley will have to calculate whether she wants to continue to antagonize Trump or start planning for 2028 when a new election would presumably take place.

Bring on Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden 

What does it all add up to for Joe Biden? Trump’s easy victory path removes any semblance of suspense from the presidential race. Forget Robert Kennedy, Joe Manchin, Dr. Cornel West, Jill Stein, or any of the other epigones marching around. The titanic clash will be between Biden and Trump, a rematch that voters, for all their professed dislike of both men, may end up enjoying more than they think.

About the Author: Jacob Heilbrunn

Jacob Heilbrunn is editor of The National Interest and is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. He has written on both foreign and domestic issues for numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street JournalFinancial TimesForeign AffairsReutersWashington Monthly, and The Weekly Standard. He has also written for German publications such as Cicero, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and Der Tagesspiegel. In 2008, his book They Knew They Were Right: the Rise of the Neocons was published by Doubleday. It was named one of the one hundred notable books of the year by The New York Times. He is the author of America Last: The Right’s Century-Long Romance with Foreign Dictators, coming next month. 

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