Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' presidential campaign "reboot" still isn’t going well, mainly because the candidate himself has less charisma than a wooden spoon, but there are hints here and there that DeSantis' new desperation might actually drive him to change up the words coming out of his word hole.
The key word there is might, and it's too early for anybody to start holding their breath. What's got campaign watchers a little worked up is that DeSantis did something this weekend that he's resisted for nearly three damn years now: He admitted that Donald Trump lost back in 2020.
DeSantis, in a newly posted interview with NBC News, said point blank about former President Donald Trump:
“Of course he lost. Joe Biden’s the president. I think what people in the media and elsewhere, they want to act like somehow this was just like the perfect election,” DeSantis said. “I don’t think it was a good-run election. But I also think Republicans didn’t fight back. You’ve got to fight back when that is happening.”
The second part of that statement, from "media" onward, is of course pure babbling gibberish. It was not a "good-run election," says DeSantis. And "Republicans didn't fight back" is one of those generic gum-wrapper phrases that every Republican uses for everything whenever the party is met with any setback whatsoever. Buddy, Trump was impeached twice for "fighting back" to keep the White House even if it required Russian-backed hoaxes and international extortion.
That this perpetually angry corncob was willing to even say the words "Joe Biden's the president," however, is itself being heralded as something of a big deal. For nearly three years now DeSantis has been dodging questions as to whether Biden was a "legitimate" president or whether Republicanism's enemies had engaged in a grand but invisible conspiracy to somehow "rig" Trump's loss. This is because DeSantis is and remains and will forever be a gutless coward, and has been trying to play both sides of the conspiracy fence so as to not give any Republican, anywhere, any reason to be mad at him.
DeSantis has been pitching himself as Trump without the baggage, a man willing to usher in a more competent version of fascist hate than Trump and his C-tier goons could accomplish, but has done it by positioning himself identically to Trump on every possible issue. DeSantis admitting Trump lost is one of the few rare times he's been willing to detach himself from the seditionist ratbastard on something central to Trumpism, and that he’s doing this as Trump rages uncontrollably and incoherently about the new indictment against him for his Jan. 6, 2021 attempted coup makes the difference even more stark.
Before everyone gets too excited about a brand-new pivot from Ron, however, check out the tape of how this admission was dragged out of him.
That was absolutely effing painful. Yeah, I'm not convinced this was some grand—and planned—pivot on Ron's part. That looked more like a man trying to claw his way through that part of the interview with the minimal answer he could give. Trump himself became infamous for saying whatever he needed to say to get himself out of one day's jam, even if he had to reverse himself and say something different to get out of the next one. This is the Sweaty “60 Minutes” Interview Guy play, not anything grander.
Politico points to an Iowa campaign stop for more evidence for an actual pivot, and this bit is more solid. A bit.
And during a campaign stop in Iowa on Friday, DeSantis was asked if he thought the election was stolen, as asserted by Trump and his supporters. “I’ve said many times, the election is what it is. All those theories that were put out did not prove to be true,” he responded.
He also criticized 2020 as an election that was not “conducted the way I think we want to. But that’s different than saying [Venezuelan leader Nicolas] Maduro stole votes or something like that. And I think those theories proved to be unsubstantiated.” Suffice to say, some of Trump’s supporters reacted furiously to DeSantis’ supporters.
Now that is a more substantive answer. Ron is willing to admit, in front of a live audience of Republicans frothy and fascist enough to want to hear what Ron DeSantis has to say about anything, that the current Venezuelan president was maybe not personally involved in denying Trump a reelection win.
But Ron didn't say outright that Maduro wasn't. He just offered up that "those theories proved to be unsubstantiated," and Trump supporters in the crowd had a collective Iowa cow over even that.
Ron's never going to do the one thing that would actually differentiate himself from Trump. DeSantis could come out and say, "Donald Trump lied his ass off to all of you, he used you, he tricked you into believing your ass was your elbow because he is a gigantic quivering manbaby who could not handle his own loss."
Fellow Republican candidate Chris Christie might say it if his seemingly infinite number of good media friends continue to prop his candidacy up with as many interviews as they can muster, but not DeSantis. He's already committed himself to being a prime conspiracy theorist himself back in Florida, furiously rallying his voters to believe that everyone from government health experts to state elementary school teachers are all plotting against them.
So we'll see if DeSantis walks back both of these admissions, both the admission that President Joe Biden is really truly the real-world president and that a batshit conspiracy theory involving vote-fixing by Venezuelan leaders both dead and alive is still—gasp—"unsubstantiated." Every one of the DeSantis reboots so far has amounted to exactly nothing because his campaign simply can't sustain any extended narrative that doesn't focus on conspiracy cranks and online Nazis.
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