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He’s run with this stupidity before, but I’m genuinely wondering why he or his advisors think that this — of all things — is an effective attack to persuade anyone, really, let alone Republican voters. Claiming that Florida’s Ron DeSantis handled COVID worse than New York’s Andrew Cuomo because the former state experienced more raw deaths is an insult to the intelligence of anyone he’s trying to convince. Florida had the third-most COVID deaths because it has the third highest population in the country. New York had fewer COVID deaths because it has almost two million fewer residents. According to these statistics, Florida outperformed New York (and many other states) on per capita deaths, which is impressive, given its disproportionately older population. Florida also outperformed New York (and many other states) on the key metric of so-called ‘excess deaths.’ And yet, the former president, eager to blast his top 2024 rival with ‘kitchen sink’ attacks — regardless of truth — just repeated the following. Stay tuned in the clip for DeSantis’ response:
TRUMP: Ron DeSantis is “better than most Democrat governors, but very average at best compared to Republican governors…Even Cuomo did better [on COVID].”
DESANTIS: “Would have rather have lived during COVID under Cuomo in New York? Are you glad that we in Florida stood up to… pic.twitter.com/LPdJiLNiTo
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) May 26, 2023
Look, I fully understand that it’s campaign season, and hardcore supporters of various candidates will cheer their guy or gal no matter what. But does a single center-right voter actually believe Andrew Cuomo did a better job on COVID than Ron DeSantis? Is there a solitary Republican in the country who would choose New York’s approach over Florida’s? It’s preposterous. Trump doesn’t believe it himself, of course, but he’s willing to say anything. And it’s very rich coming from a guy who deferred endlessly to people like Dr. Fauci, whom Trump awarded with a presidential medal on his final day in office after losing to Joe Biden. Relatedly, we are starting to see how DeSantis himself is going to counter-punch against Trump’s blizzard of criticisms:
Ron DeSantis hits back at Trump’s attacks: “He’s attacking me from the left, and that really wasn’t the Donald Trump from 2015 and 2016 … I get he wants to hit me, but don’t take the side of a multinational corporation that wants to sexualize kids.” pic.twitter.com/bpQ6S5Mfgk
— Scott Morefield (@SKMorefield) May 26, 2023
Ron DeSantis makes the case for why he’s more electable than Trump in a general election:
“You want to have somebody who can draw people in who may not have traditionally been Republicans and are willing to give us a shot … I do believe that there’s a limit to the number of… pic.twitter.com/QiI847F8ZL
— Scott Morefield (@SKMorefield) May 26, 2023
DeSantis: Trump “did great for three years. But when he turned the country over to Fauci … that destroyed millions of people’s lives.” pic.twitter.com/9hwvSh2qzI
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) May 25, 2023
These are compelling points. It will be interesting to see how Trump pushes back on them, which could be very instructive during GOP primary debates — if the current, heavy frontrunner agrees to participate at all. Many observers and critics were critical of DeSantis’ campaign rollout this week, myself included. Team DeSantis, however, is pleased with some of the metrics from the launch, including a record-setting $8.2 million raised online from small donors in the first 24 hours after the announcement. That’s millions more than Joe Biden’s previous record, and just shy of what Trump raised in the first six weeks of his 2024 campaign (and far eclipsing what Trump brought in over his first full quarter). And as of this writing, DeSantis’ debut video is pushing 25 million views. There’s lots of interest and enthusiasm.
But will that translate into gains in the polls over time, especially in crucial early states? Iowa is looking essential for DeSantis. He needs to build real, quantifiable momentum there in the next few months. If he can’t, and no one else catches fire, Trump will really start to look inevitable. If he can, however, this will get interesting. As the former president again repeats the tiresome, irrelevant ‘gratitude/loyalty’ gripe over an endorsement from half-a-decade ago, I’ll leave you with a top DeSantis spokeswoman ripping Trump over his Cuomo comments:
Ratioed the Cuomo fan club… ☠️
Good news Florida haters!
I-95 still runs north 24/7/365 https://t.co/CywqPsWiYw
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) May 26, 2023
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