Here’s a fact that should unsettle the Ron DeSantis campaign: Since before he even announced he was running for the Republican presidential nomination in late May, his poll numbers have trended downward. That’s the opposite of good, and he has so far given no indication that there’s a plan to change it.
So here’s a free idea for the governor: Play to your strengths. Your strength is in your mastery of issues and policy. And the best way to display that strength is by crushing the people who challenge it. Those people are the media.
There are three fundamental truths in life. One plus one is two. When it rains, the ground gets wet. And when DeSantis confronts his corrupt critics in the press, voters fall in love.
We’ve seen it a million times. The clips of DeSantis raining verbal beatdowns on reporters who attempt to distort his policy record are legendary among his fans. He corrects the narrative and humbles a dork all at once. There is no downside.
Do it on live television. And when it’s dealing with newspapers, DeSantis should record videos of himself reading deceitful coverage and dismantling it with the facts. Then post it on Twitter. It would be an instant hit.
But for whatever reason, DeSantis has decided his campaign will not be about displaying his strength. He has instead opted to chat with Elon Musk, Sean Hannity, and others who already like him. Meanwhile, every other prominent Republican running for the nomination has filled the void by heading straight to CNN for hour-plus-long town hall forums, most notably former President Trump, whose rock-star performance further widened his decisive lead in polls by an average of four points.
Trump ventures into enemy territory, properly belittles the yapping host, and his numbers go up. DeSantis has another boring chat on Fox News, no one cares, and his numbers continue to go down. Is this starting to make sense?
Republicans are never going back to the days of nominating the most milquetoast (or, as Trump would say, “milktoast”) candidate who desperately tries making friends with the New York Times, only to invariably be labeled by the media as an anti-gay racist. But declining to pursue a friendship is not the same thing as flat-out ignoring. The media will lie about DeSantis whether he pays attention to them or not. Unfortunately for him (and for all of us), there are more of them than there are of him. A lot more. And they control the microphones.
The campaign strategy, no doubt, is to block out the media, deny them access and thus deny their DeSantis coverage any legitimacy, but that’s not how this is going to play out. The lack of exposure and failure to prove he can take on his enemies, and win, is going to end with the once-popular Florida governor petering out to a tiny flame before Trump finally blows it out with ease.
Time for DeSantis to do it and do it live. Otherwise, he can pack it up.