A few months back I asked a question of Donald Trump: does he know why he’s running to be president again? He made one major speech of which even some of his most ardent followers questioned the enthusiasm. Since then he has occupied the depths of Truth Social and not much more.
After his announcement to seek the presidency for a third time last November (he ran as a Reform Party candidate in 2000, remember), he has held one campaign rally, one town hall on CNN, made one stop in Iowa and another where he canceled a much-hyped rally. He has spent much of his time taking shot after shot at Florida governor Ron DeSantis, telling him not to join the race, but as we learned last week, his efforts were to no avail.
When DeSantis somewhat stumbled out of the gate with a malfunctioning Twitter Spaces event hosted by Elon Musk, Trump posted a couple of memes on his own social media platform, and then the very next day went golfing at a LIV International tournament in Virginia.
DeSantis in the meantime appeared on Fox News, then with radio hosts Mark Levin, Dana Loesch, Erick Erickson, Glenn Beck and Steve Deace. The Florida governor also announced an $8.2 million fundraising haul in twenty-four hours. And once again, Trump went golfing. When he gave reporters some brief comments, he did not seem to speak with the same passion and voice that comes through with late night Truth Social shitposts directed at his competition.
This does not look like the Donald Trump who barnstormed the country on his way to trampling all over the media’s coronation of Hillary Clinton in 2016, where he more than doubled her campaign stops in the final two weeks. Perhaps Trump is simply biding his time. He’s still polling as the GOP frontrunner for the nomination, but it is by far no sure thing and DeSantis has occupied second a healthy distance back from Trump, before he even declared. DeSantis is undertaking an all-out media blitz in early primary states, hitting twelve cities.
DeSantis is also planning a strenuous fundraising schedule through his own state and others. It may or may not matter in the long run, but the plan already looks to simply out-work and out hustle Trump for the nomination. Trump himself should know how perilous it is to sit back thinking the race is wrapped up. Hillary Clinton thought the same in 2016, to the point of completely ignoring both her husband’s own campaign warnings and the state of Wisconsin through the duration of the 105-day general election calendar.
Trump’s other problem is that he believes the polls he wants (like those run by CatTurd on Twitter) and doesn’t appear to have anyone around him any longer willing to challenge him on having the nomination in the bag — which he believes, based on his statements, Truth Social posts and declaration that he may skip the primary debates altogether. Trump is surrounded by junior D-league back-benching online influencers, desperate to keep his company, who will say and do whatever he wants to stay that way. This is how political careers end.
Earlier this month, while both Trump and DeSantis were in the state of Iowa, Trump and his people nixed a rally at the last minute, citing extreme weather concerns. But no such weather ever came, Trump packed his bags and left, and Ron DeSantis decided to make a last minute BBQ stop just up the road in Des Moines, where Trump’s rally location sat empty.
Ron DeSantis, as a candidate, has now scheduled a rally of his own today back in Iowa. Trump has yet to reschedule his own rally. DeSantis’s media assault and his fundraising haul should be a wake up-call to Trump, or a punch in the mouth. The race is officially on, and he is stuck on the back nine. There was another candidate in 2016 who thought she had the presidency in the bag and didn’t feel the need to show up — and Donald Trump is starting to look like her.