Since his departure from the White House, former President Donald Trump has been attacking Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. His attacks have come in response to speculation that DeSantis could be a potential rival in the 2024 presidential election. But Republican strategists are warning that this strategy could backfire, as DeSantis’ response to the pandemic has been largely successful.
At issue is the fact that, during his time in office, DeSantis took an assertive stance against both lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed by local and state governments. This position has earned him praise among many in his own party, especially those who are critical of such measures as a form of government overreach. However, it also puts him at odds with Trump’s own hardline stance on the virus.
In response to these differences between himself and DeSantis, Trump has accused the governor of changing his tune on vaccines – a claim which has not been substantiated by any evidence. He has further attempted to discredit state leaders who have implemented lockdown policies and travel restrictions while praising those who have chosen not to do so – despite the fact that most decisions regarding public health measures are made at local or state levels rather than at the presidential level.
This line of attack may be too “nuanced” for much of Trump’s base to understand, suggest some Republican strategists close to him; moreover, it is potentially damaging for their own party if it serves to undermine voter confidence in their popular leader due to perceived inconsistencies in his approaches towards different aspects of pandemic management. That said, there is no denying that DeSantis’ policies have been effective in keeping Florida largely open throughout 2020 while avoiding much of the economic damage seen elsewhere around America; as such, it may be difficult for Trump to convince enough voters against him without being overly critical or antagonistic towards other Republicans across America.
The implications of this attack by Trump on a popular leader within his own party are yet unclear – but one thing is for certain: It will certainly reverberate throughout GOP politics for months (if not years) ahead whether or not he succeeds in diminishing support for another potential 2024 candidate. With so much focus being placed on 2021 elections and recovery from 2020 losses however, it remains an interesting subplot worth examining during what could potentially be a very consequential year politically speaking – one where even small changes can make all the difference come election day 2022.