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Is DeSantis the real target for the Trump arrest circus?
Democrats are making a martyr of Donald Trump to ensure Joe Biden doesn't face a credible challenger in 2024
By Adam Edwards
DONALD TRUMP is not an election winner. He lost the 2018 midterms. He lost the 2020 general election. And he cost the Republicans their predicted landslide last year, after hinting that he would be making a return to frontline politics.
This is why Trump, who lives a thousand miles outside the jurisdiction of the court that issued the indictment, will jump at the chance to fly to Manhattan for a showy arrest.
Being publicly fingerprinted, cuffed and forced to walk in front of the cameras like an opposition leader in a banana republic is the best thing that could ever happen to his election campaign.
Trump had been doing pretty badly in polls before news leaked last month about his likely arrest for what is, essentially, a misdemeanor.
New polls by Public Opinion Strategies showed the former president trailing his likely main rival for the Republican nomination, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, by a whopping eight percentage points in Iowa, the state that kicks off the “primary” or leadership vote. They also show him level-pegging DeSantis in New Hampshire, the second state to vote in the Republican primaries.
This is humiliating for Trump, who took New Hampshire with more than double the number of votes of his closest rival in 2016.
Even more embarrassingly, DeSantis hasn’t even declared as a possible Republican presidential candidate yet and, unlike Trump, is relatively unknown outside his own state.
The little snippets of information that Americans have heard about the Florida governor, famous for defying Trump and later Joe Biden’s draconian lockdown orders, mask mandates and jab passports, has come from press smears against DeSantis, such as the now-debunked claim that he had been “hiding” the true number of Covid deaths in Florida.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the DeSantis team is famously not interested in engaging with what they call the “activist” press, turning down the chance to appear on major TV shows like The View and routinely waiving its right to reply in articles about DeSantis or any of his team (many of whom have also been the subject of bizarre hit-pieces, too).
Indeed, while Trump spent much of March talking up his likely arrest (and sending texts begging for money to fight it) DeSantis has been waging a lonely crusade against government overreach. On March 23, the governor rescinded a 9/11-era law giving the state’s surgeon general the power to forcibly vaccinate people for any virus or biological agent against their will.
DeSantis has signed a number of such revolutionary orders over the past three years, banning not only covid jab mandates and lockdowns, but also making it illegal to for businesses and other organisations to request proof of vaccination – a move that destroyed American attempts for a nationwide “vax pass”.
Though once an eager supporter of the Covid jab, the former lawyer and US Navy officer was dubbed an “anti-vaxxer” by the media for saying the jab should be voluntary. He and his surgeon general also bucked the national trend by not pushing the jab rollout on children, something the World Health Organization (WHO) agreed was the right course of action last week, but which DeSantis was lambasted for at the time.
The Florida governor’s detail-focused approach - and his ability to admit error and change course – puts him in stark opposition to Trump, who has denied he locked the country down, and claims “his” vaccine saved 100 million American lives.
Most polls show Trump losing to Biden. DeSantis, on the other, consistently out-performs Biden in opinion polling, with the Florida governor proving incredibly popular among independents and disgruntled Democrats, few of whom would ever vote for Trump.
A recent Quinnipiac poll, for example, showed DeSantis performs 10 points better than Trump among independents and nine points better among voters aged 65+.
DeSantis is also incredibly popular among traditionally Democrat-supporting Hispanic voters, having won every sub-section of this growing demographic in November’s Florida re-election (for clarity, DeSantis is not Hispanic himself; his surname is Italian)
He also won the female vote, the urban vote, the Asian vote, and got more support in every group from school leavers to those with college degrees or higher.
But DeSantis cannot beat the Democrats if he doesn’t beat Trump for the Republican nomination.
This is why the Democrats are itching to get Trump in cuffs.
The sight of the former president being cuffed over a misdemeanor will fire up the Republican base and could even see self-declared “Never Trumpers” (Republicans who hate Trump) line up behind their seemingly persecuted ex-leader.
This would be a disaster for the anti-restrictions movement. Even if Trump did somehow manage to beat Biden in 2024, he is unlikely to open any sort of investigation into the fraudulent efficacy claims and safety profile of the so-called “vaccines”. He is also unlikely to push federal laws banning lockdowns or mandates, like DeSantis did in Florida, or to ban Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC), as DeSantis recently announced he will do in his state.
But all hope isn’t lost for DeSantis.
The frontrunner in Republican primaries rarely ends up winning the nomination, except, of course, when he’s a sitting president (which Trump is not).
The reason is because the primaries are run on a state-by-state basis, which means an outsider can build up momentum by winning the first few states, like Iowa and New Hampshire.
DeSantis’ team could also focus attention on a handful of populous states, like California, which not only have more delegates than many others combined, but whose voters are likely highly aware of just how despised Trump is among their independent and Democrat friends and thus unlikely to beat Biden.
Polling from before the indictment saga, in February, showed DeSantis could easily carry California.
What’s more, despite current polls showing Trump has a national advantage of anywhere up to 30 points, he is currently losing to DeSantis in another densely populated state: Georgia, whose Republican governor also famously clashed with Trump over Covid lockdowns.
Curiously, while the world’s attention will be on Trump's antics in Manhattan, DeSantis plans to travel to his northern neighbour on Thursday to shore up support in this vital state (carried by Trump in 2016 primaries).
It’s a shrewd move. But so, frankly, is Manhattan.