Trump super-PAC has already spent more money attacking DeSantis than spent on backing GOP candidates in the 2022 midterms
MAGA, Inc, the well funded super-PAC supporting Donald Trump's 2024 candidacy, apparently never heard of Ronald Reagan's eleventh commandment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican."
I wonder how many others who would happily vote for another term for Trump in November 2024 are disturbed by the barrage of outright nasty ads attacking Florida's outstandingly successful governor? This is a man who hasn't even declared his candidacy for president yet.
On Twitter, Rob Pyers provides the expenditure sheet revealing the money that is being spent speaking ill of a Republican governor whose track record is so impressive:
The only spending not attacking DeSantis is trivial: barely over $1,500, or just over a hundredth of one percent of total spending.
As The Right Scoop comments:
Trump keeps touting polls suggesting DeSantis doesn't stand a chance, but the massive amount of money they are spending trying to keep him from entering the race tells a completely different story.
At anti-Trump National Review, Brittany Bernstein notes:
Former president Donald Trump's super PAC, MAGA Inc., has now spent more money on attack ads targeting Florida governor Ron DeSantis than it previously did on supporting Republican candidates in the 2022 midterms. (snip)
In the 2022 midterms, the PAC spent $15 million to support Republican candidates in the key swing states of Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Ohio and Nevada. Republicans lost Senate races in four out of those five states, with only Ohio Republican J.D. Vance securing a win.
The DeSantis team makes the same point that TRS did:
"These are the largest ongoing expenditures against a non-candidate in Republican primary history, and that's all you need to know to draw the obvious conclusion: Governor DeSantis presents the best option for defeating Joe Biden," DeSantis political team press secretary Bryan Griffin told National Review.
MAGA Inc., which was first launched to support Republicans in the midterms, has made clear in a series of recent ads that it views DeSantis's past views on entitlement reform as a weakness heading into 2024.
The attacks on DeSantis's votes while in the House of Representatives remind me of the notorious Democrat ads scare-mongering seniors over reasonable Social Security reform, pushing Grandma over a cliff in a wheelchair. Not only are these attacks distorted, but they also offer ammunition to the Dems that can be used against Trump himself, as Bernstein points out:
MAGA Inc. launched a 30-second video of a man eating chocolate pudding with his fingers last month — a play on a Daily Beast report that claimed DeSantis once ate a pudding cup with three fingers in lieu of a spoon while traveling on a private plane in 2019.
But while the ad grabs viewers with its uncomfortable imagery, the spot ultimately does not concern DeSantis's eating habits but rather is just the latest example of Trump's team hitting DeSantis on entitlements.
"Ron DeSantis loves sticking his fingers where they don't belong. And we're not just talking about pudding," a voice-over says. "DeSantis has his dirty fingers all over senior entitlements, like cutting Medicare, slashing Social Security, and even raising our retirement age."
"Tell Ron DeSantis to keep his pudding fingers off our money," the video adds. "Oh, and get this man a spoon!"
The "Pudding Fingers" ad follows a 30-second ad that MAGA Inc. debuted in March also attacking DeSantis's record on entitlements.
DeSantis voted for three non-binding resolutions between 2013 and 2015 that called for raising the retirement age to 70 and reducing benefits for millions of earners. Trump's attacks on DeSantis's entitlement record resemble those leveled by Adam Putnam during the 2018 Florida gubernatorial primary — attacks that left-leaning Politifact classified as misleading given that DeSantis voted for non-binding budget resolutions that, even if adopted, would not have changed federal law and would not have therefore cut benefits for any Americans.
And Trump is equally vulnerable to that line of attack.
Trump's 2020 budget proposal included cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare. The proposal outlined an aim to spend $25 billion less on Social Security in the next decade and $845 billion less on Medicare over that same period of time. The proposal also would have allocated $1.2 trillion in a block-grant program to states for Medicaid, in an effort to spend $1.5 trillion less on that program over ten years.
By law, Trump can't coordinate with a super-PAC, so there is a certain level of deniability for responsibility for these ads. But it doesn't take a genius (or illegal coordination) to notice Trump's own attacks on DeSantis and for MAGA, Inc. to pick up that ball and run with it.
Trump is a fighter, and that quality makes him up to the job of dealing with an opposition party, the Democrats, that has fully gone over to the dark side, corrupting the FBI, DOJ, CIA, and other elements of the Deep State into what has to be regarded as incipient fascism. They know no limits in their tactics to destroy what is left of the democratic process that might keep them from total power.
But fighting them has to be a team effort. Trump's greatest failure as president was in his selection of team members, many of whom were not loyal to him and his agenda. I don't think a scorched earth approach to competition for the nomination serves him or the MAGA agenda well.