Ron DeSantis is gearing up for a fight with Donald J. Trump, arguing the ex-president may be most vulnerable to fellow Republicans: The substance .
Florida Gov. DeSantis is expected to make a range of policy-based arguments, based on his public statements and interviews with people he met privately and described their conversations on the condition of anonymity.
He told Republicans that, unlike the mercurial Mr. Trump, he could be trusted to stick to conservative principles; Mr. Trump was too distracted and undisciplined to achieve conservative policy victories, such as finishing his much-hyped border wall ; and that any policy promises Mr. Trump makes to conservatives are worthless because he is incapable of defeating President Biden.
Mr. DeSantis’ challenge is obvious to anyone who has read recent polls: Mr. Trump maintains a deep psychological grip on many Republican voters who seem immune to legitimate arguments against him.
Mr Trump, who has been married three times and has been accused of making hush money payments to women, including porn stars, has never been the embodiment of social conservatives. But he is largely one. His motivation is more transaction than conviction, which has nothing to do with the millions of evangelicals who cheered when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
But Mr. DeSantis is expected to argue that the reason Mr. Trump makes so many ideologically inexplicable personnel decisions — such as promoting Dr. Anthony Fauci at the start of the Covid crisis — is because he has not fixed The principle he can rely on when he is faced with a difficult decision.
By contrast, allies say Mr. DeSantis will try to prove to Republican voters that they can trust him to stand his ground on thorny issues such as abortion.
People who have spent time with Mr. DeSantis in private describe him as a ideologue whose happy place is a quiet room where he can read academic journals or policy documents. Socially awkward, he frequently referred to the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and Supreme Court case law in his conversations.
Mr. Trump has never been accused of citing the Federalist Papers in casual conversation. His focus on policy has been limited at best. He has strong instincts on trade, immigration and some aspects of foreign policy, but in most policy areas he is open to suggestions for deals or the people he ends up talking to.
Here are five of their most likely points of friction on policy.
Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June, Mr. Trump has appeared uncomfortable with the fallout from his signature achievement. He privately blamed abortion hardliners for the GOP’s disappointing midterm election results, declined to say whether he would support a national abortion ban, and suggested Florida’s new six-week abortion ban was “too harsh“
Mr. DeSantis seized on the remarks, an issue his allies hope will help him march to the Christian right. “Nearly 99 percent of pro-life supporters support protecting unborn children when a heartbeat is detected,” Mr. DeSantis said recently, noting that Mr. Trump “as a Florida resident” has not said whether he will sign the “Heartbeat Act”.
Still, despite supporting abortion rights for most of his adult life, Mr. Trump is the most important anti-abortion president in history. He reminded his conservative audience that despite the many promises made by the previous Republican president, he was the one to end Roe.
take on big business
Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Trump treat American business differently.
Mr. DeSantis subscribes to a theory popular among the self-proclaimed “New Right” that the left has taken over so many American institutions — including academia, the media and big corporations — that conservatives are ceding those battlegrounds to Progressives are stupid. The name “Limited Government”.
Instead, Mr. DeSantis debate Conservatives must use every lever of government power to fight back — and if that upsets traditional conservatives, so be it.
Trump has toyed with the idea, but never fully embraced it.he and the so-called Environmental, Social and Governance Investments, slamming social media companies for the way they treat conservatives and enacting tariffs that anger multinational corporations.but he also tax cuts for businesses And invited the CEO, whom he later derided as a “globalist,” into the Oval Office and his business council.
Trump is a veteran businessman in New York and, above all, he likes to be seen striking deals. He sees Mr. DeSantis’ fight to “wake up” Disney as futile and bad for Florida’s economy.He has cheer Disney CEO Robert A. Iger’s latest effort to win over DeSantis.
China, Ukraine and NATO
Mr. Trump and Mr. DeSantis have important differences on two key foreign policy issues: how to deal with China and what role the United States should play in Ukraine’s war against Russia.
Trump has been credited with pushing Republicans and Democrats to see China as a ruthless adversary rather than an imperfect trading partner. But for much of his presidency, Mr Trump has viewed US-China relations in purely economic terms.
He praised Chinese President Xi Jinping as he pursued a trade deal that he could trumpet to American farmers.He has imposed tariffs on China but has refused to take other steps, such as sanctioning Chinese officials on charges of human rights abuses, to avoid meddle in his trade deal. It wasn’t until 2020, after Mr. Trump blamed the Chinese Communist Party for the spread of the coronavirus, that he finally set aside his administration’s China doves and fully empowered its hawks.
DeSantis is less concerned with U.S.-China trade and more concerned with the national security threat posed by Beijing.As governor, he signed a law banning Chinese social media platforms such as TikTok from using state government equipment, and another law that would block many Chinese citizens and companies with ties to their government from using buy real estate in Florida.Mr Trump has promised to enact Similar restrictions on Chinese investment and called on China Paying Trillions of Dollars in Covid Reparationsbut his record suggests he will be more open to negotiating with Beijing than DeSantis.
On Ukraine, Mr. Trump has gone further than Mr. DeSantis in ruling out U.S. support for Kiev.While Mr Trump called the Russian invasion a “crime against humanity” early in the war, he has more recently Refuse to make any moral distinctions Between the Ukrainians and the Russians — just saying there has to be a deal.he pondered Handing over chunks of Ukraine to Russia.
After dodging questions about Ukraine, Mr DeSantis told former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that defending Ukraine from Russia was not a vital US interest and viewed the war as a “territorial dispute”.Spurred on by the criticism, Mr DeSantis backtracked on the “territorial dispute” route and, in a subsequent interview He called Mr Putin a “war criminal”.Mr Trump reject When asked to do the same on CNN.
While both Mr. Trump and Mr. DeSantis have contempt for international institutions such as the United Nations, the former president poses an even greater threat to the post-World War II international security framework.
Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, John R. Bolton, fears his boss will pull the United States out of NATO and is increasingly confident he will do so if he wins re-election.Now Mr Trump has confirmed those fears on his campaign websitepledging to “complete the process of fundamentally reassessing NATO’s purpose and mission that we began during my administration.”
Spending, trade and the Fed
In pre-Trump Republican nominating races, the leading candidates tended to argue over who was more fiscally conservative—who would dismantle more federal agencies, and who was more likely to shrink the federal government to “I can It drags into the scale of the government.”bathroom and drown it in the bathtub’, as anti-tax activist Grover Norquist put it.
But Mr Trump has reframed the Republican primary campaign as a fight over who is the most protectionist and who will most faithfully defend government benefits for the elderly. Mr. DeSantis, who entered politics as a Tea Party fiscal conservative, has so far shown little interest in trying to outdo the previous president’s populism on government spending and trade, and seems hopeful he can refocus the party’s discussion around fiscal discipline.
Mr. Trump and his Super PAC call out Mr. DeSantis voted in Congress to cut spending on Social Security and Medicare. Mr. DeSantis said he would not “disrupt” Social Security for seniors who currently rely on the program, but not like mr trumphe did not rule out cutting entitlement spending in ways that affect young Americans when they retire.
Mr. Trump has initiate Attacks on Mr. DeSantis past killing efforts The Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires ethanol to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. Fiscal conservatives see this as “big government” overreach, but Mr. Trump knows how important ethanol is to Iowa’s economy.
Mr Trump’s allies plan to paint Mr DeSantis as “soft” on trade — meaning he won’t use tariffs as aggressively as the former president, who proudly called himself “customs man’ and waging trade wars with China and Europe. Mr Trump has promised that in his second term he would introduce “a new system of universal baseline tariffs that reward domestic production while taxing foreign companies. “
Mr. DeSantis contrasted his budget surplus in Florida with the trillions of dollars added to the national debt under Mr. Trump’s presidency.Mr. DeSantis will point out that, as a member of Congress, he voted against then-President Trump on 2017 and 2018. Mr. DeSantis plans to link Mr. Trump to high inflation criticize He named Jerome Powell as Fed chairman.
crime and punishment
Mr DeSantis signs tough legislation on crime, including a law lower the threshold for the death penalty.
Mr. Trump, a consistent defender of law and order, has undercut that by allowing his more liberal son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to lead bipartisan negotiations on a criminal justice law that would shorten federal sentences. image.
Mr. Trump was quick to regret signing the law, known as the First Step Act, and blamed Mr. Kushner. In private, Mr. Trump’s own advisers have acknowledged that the First Step Act is a weakness in his political base.
However, DeSantis’ ability to attack Trump’s laws directly is complicated by the fact that he, like most Republicans, voted for the original House version — one narrowly focused on prison reform and opposed by civil rights groups. version and many Democrats. The very different version enacted when Mr. DeSantis was no longer in Congress included sentencing reform and the ability to retroactively apply for reduced sentences.
The well-funded super PAC supporting Mr. DeSantis is expected to attack Mr. Trump’s criminal record.
In a sort of revision, Mr. Trump has called for the death penalty for drug dealing, sending the National Guard to areas with high crime rates, and Deploy U.S. troops Fight the Mexican drug cartels.