Analysis – Ron DeSantis, collateral victim of Donald Trump’s legal troubles

He could have done so on Sunday evening, in the hours following receipt of a letter confirming, according to him, that he is indeed the target of an investigation by the American justice for his involvement in the Capitol Riots, the January 6, 2021.

He could even have done it on Monday, but it was finally Tuesday morning that he chose donald trump to complain publicly about being again the victim of a “witch hunt”, the day when his political opponent Ron DeSantis was preparing to breathe new life into his electoral campaign by granting an interview to the network CNN.

The thing was far from trivial for the governor of Florida, who usually prefers to speak to the ultra-conservative and pro-Republican channel. FoxNews and who now feels the need to address a wider audience in the hope of rising to the top of the Republican ticket, in view of the presidential election of 2024.

But the media eclipse caused by the calculated exit of Donald Trump was once again fatal to him. The American media had nothing on Tuesday for the former Republican president and his possible third arrest for, this time, a failed coup attempt. CNN even delayed the broadcast of his interview with Donald Trump’s closest rival in the Republican nomination to talk about the new legal flaws of the ex-star of reality TV and skillful attention grabber. A blow for DeSantis who, since its official entry into the race last May, is struggling to take advantage of the “business” that accumulates on the back of the former president, to take the lead in the race. In addition to regularly becoming the collateral victim.

turbulent zone

Coincidence of the calendars: this umpteenth rupture of fault in the Trumpian political seismology intervenes whereas the electoral campaign of Ron DeSantis seems to be floundering. Sunday, The media Politico revealed that the young politician, also a demagogue and proud representative of the American ultra-right, had to part with several members of his team to reduce expenses, struggling to meet the income collected by his fundraising. A dozen employees were reportedly fired.

At the end of last week, two of Ron DeSantis’ top advisers, Dave Abrams and Tucker Obenshain, also announced that he was leaving the Florida governor’s campaign team, leaving the candidate facing the reality of figures that regularly confirm his inability to pose in public opinion as the successor to Donald Trump, as he dreams of.

Since the beginning of the year, the elected conservative has not gained ground on the ex-president and leader of the race. Worse, it keeps losing. In January, he was just 20 points behind the billionaire, compared to almost 33 today, according to the polls aggregation carried out by the RealClearPolitics website. This is barely 1 point less than the day of the official launch of DeSantis’ presidential campaign, two months ago.

With the approach of the Republican primaries, which should take off from Iowa at the beginning of next year, Donald Trump still holds the strong Republican, with 55% of the voters of this party saying they are ready to reopen the doors of the White House to him, according to the most recent sounding of Morning Consult. Ron DeSantis would collect 20% of the vote, despite the two charges against the former president. In New York, Trump will face charges of paying a bribe in a sex scandal. In Florida, he faces justice for illegal retention of secret documents and refusing to work with the FBI to return them.

The letter he received on Sunday suggests that charges could soon be brought against him for his involvement in the attack by his supporters on the Democracy Dome. The insurgency, motivated by unsubstantiated accusations of electoral fraud, sought to obstruct the certification of the vote granting victory to Joe Biden and to keep the populist illegally in power. A crime which, for the moment, does not seem to have a great influence on the Republican electorate and its intention to renew for a second time the politician with authoritarian and antidemocratic inclinations at the top of the American state.

Nothing is decided yet

Ron DeSantis’ campaign must deal with this reality. But, the games may not yet be completely done for the governor of Florida, according to recent US primary history. Both in the Democratic camp and in the Republican camp.

Almost six months from the start of the presidential campaign, his trajectories still remain numerous: one could of course follow that of a Jeb Bush who was governor of Florida, just like him, then hoped to put a stop to the candidacy of Donald Trump in 2016. His withdrawal from the race in February that year was preceded by cuts to his campaign team, accompanied by falling polls and rising debts.

Another path for Ron DeSantis: following in the footsteps of Barack Obama who, in 2008, demonstrated that the presence in a primary of a strong adversary is not always an insurmountable obstacle. At the start of the race, he was 20 points behind Hillary Clinton in the polls. A distance that was even maintained after the young politician’s victory in the Iowa caucuses, and which ended up eroding only after a series of subsequent victories, in South Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, Texas… Obama then became the Democratic candidate chosen to face Republican John McCain.

Two scenarios placed however, like Ron DeSantis, in the face of the uncertainty of a new time: that where the presidential candidates are now the subject of criminal prosecution – a first in the United States – and manage to take advantage of it to eclipse their opponents.

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