The 2024 GOP primary season has only just begun, and already Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis seems to have lost his way, unable to articulate a clear position on the most important issue of the primaries, which is what happened in 2020.
In an NBC News interview that aired Monday, DeSantis was asked by correspondent Dasha Burns, “Yes or no, did Trump lose the 2020 election?” It was a sneering, commie, gotcha question that DeSantis could have easily swatted away, refused to dignify with a response, or simply said, “Biden won, but unfairly,” and then explained how the 2020 election was rigged in Biden’s favor.
Instead, after Burns idiotically pressed for a “yes or no” answer, DeSantis took the bait. “Well, of course — no, of course he lost,” DeSantis stammered. “Joe Biden’s the president. But the issue is, I think what people in the media and elsewhere, they want to act like somehow this was just like the perfect election. … 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.”
He then went on to blame Trump for basically everything that happened in the 2020 cycle: pandemic-inspired mass unrestricted mail-in voting and ballot-harvesting, “Zuckerbucks,” the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story, and so on. Trump, he said, “turned the government over to Fauci,” citing the CARES Act, “which funded mail-in ballots across the country.”
Here we have what’s now a familiar formula from DeSantis: say whatever he thinks Trump voters want to hear, and then attack Trump. In this case, he acknowledged the truth — that there were major problems with 2020, that it was not a “good-run election” — but then blamed Trump for not fighting back, which is not just a ridiculous way to characterize 2020 but seems like an answer almost designed in a lab to infuriate every last Republican primary voter.
It’s an odd but observable pattern that seems to be the result of someone coaching him to attack or blame Trump in nearly every answer he gives, regardless of the context or issue at hand, even in an ill-advised pre-taped interview with a corporate media outlet like NBC and a hack like Burns, whom DeSantis should have known would present his answers in the worst possible light.
The plain truth is that no issue is more important for DeSantis (and the entire GOP field) than the 2020 election, and if he wants to be the nominee he’d better come up with a better answer than, “Yeah 2020 had some problems but they were all Trump’s fault.” As I argued in these pages recently, DeSantis has zero chance of winning the primary unless he acknowledges unequivocally that 2020 was rigged and vows to go to war against the system that rigged it. He shouldn’t be attacking Trump on this front, but the deep state-Democrat-Big Tech machine that took Trump out. It’s his only path to the nomination, yet he has refused thus far to follow it.
It’s hard to overstate the enormity of the problem facing DeSantis here. It’s not just the unprecedented changes to voting rules in 2020 but the entire four years of deep state warfare against a sitting president that preceded it. Peachy Keenan put it well in a pair of tweets on Monday. “The Obama government never ended and a GOP win in 2024 won’t end it either,” she wrote. “There was no peaceful transfer of power in 2016. Any candidate who doesn’t understand this is disqualified from public office.”
Indeed, no candidate claiming to represent Republican voters in 2024 can do less than acknowledge, without the ritual throat-clearing demanded by the regime press, that a coordinated effort to oust Trump — or, failing that, gut his presidency — was underway in 2016 well before Trump even took office. Nothing quite like Russiagate has ever happened. It’s not too much to call it one of the greatest political scandals of the modern era.
Nor has anything quite happened like 2020, in which Democrat-controlled states and activist judges used the pandemic as a pretext to enact unmonitored mass mail-in balloting and ballot harvesting, Mark Zuckerberg flooded local election offices with cash to bolster Democrat get-out-the-vote operations, and the corporate media and Big Tech colluded with the deep state to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story, which we now know was merely a small part of the much larger story of Biden family corruption.
All those things cannot fairly be laid at Trump’s feet, and DeSantis is making a huge mistake in trying to do so. At the very least, two-time Trump voters will never accept the argument. He should focus instead on using major platforms like sit-down interviews with corporate media outlets to highlight and explain what went wrong, in both 2020 and 2016, and how if we don’t fix this we’ll never have another free and fair election in America. That’s a message that could, if delivered skillfully, reach an audience even beyond GOP primary voters.
But the least any Republican can do, if he or she hopes to represent the half of America that more or less agrees with this analysis, is simply and clearly acknowledge what happened and vow to ensure it never happens again. So far DeSantis, despite his manifest talents and considerable achievements as governor of Florida, has not been able to meet this low bar.