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Trump is still the go-to guy for GOP hate

Donald Trump
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File
FILE – Former President Donald Trump announces he is running for president for the third time at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Nov. 15, 2022. Trump had dinner Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at his Mar-a-Lago club with the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, who is now known as Ye, as well as Nick Fuentes, a far-right activist who has used his online platform to spew antisemitic and white supremacist rhetoric.

How low will Donald Trump go? Well, he recently celebrated Thanksgiving dining with controversial guests, including right-wing extremist Nick Fuentes as well as rapper and designer Ye (formerly Kanye West). 

Fuentes is a white nationalist and Holocaust denier. Ye is facing ever-increasing backlash for antisemitic statements and support for “White Lives Matter” sentiments. Ye also recently told “Infowars” host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, “I like Hitler.”  

It’s a new low even for former President Trump. 

You would think that a politician who is so wildly unpopular would have tried to do something constructive to rehabilitate his image just after launching a comeback campaign for president. But Trump apparently doubled down on racism and hate to honor the holidays.  

There is a method to Trump’s madness. He appears to believe there are enough voters who are themselves or are unbothered by racists, antisemites, white nationalists and election deniers to carry him through the GOP nomination campaign on his way to a rematch against President Joe Biden. Trump’s dinner last week with Fuentes and Ye was an appetizer for a presidential campaign that will likely try to consolidate the extremists in the party behind his candidacy. 

He’s right. If Trump hangs onto his base in Republican winner-take-all primaries with a crowd of candidates, he could win all a state’s delegates to the Republican National Convention. His problem is that every step he takes to appease right-wing extremists in the campaign for the GOP nomination makes it tougher for him to beat Biden in the general election. 

Trump’s early announcement suggests that he sees Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) coming up fast in the rear-view mirror. Fox News appears to be cooling off on its former idol and warming up to the governorControversial entrepreneur Elon Musk, who has a celebrity-like following, just endorsed DeSantis. Prominent GOP politicians have openly criticized the former president.  

DeSantis is a committed conservative without the personal and legal baggage that makes Trump so unpopular with swing voters. DeSantis is a U.S. Navy veteran with young children and a wife who is a cancer survivor.  

The governor won a big reelection victory with solid support from  Hispanic voters, which cemented GOP dominance in the Sunshine State. His forthcoming book, “The Courage To Be Free,” offers insight into the governor’s presidential campaign message. He will wage war against the media, woke corporations and liberal elite. It will be Trump’s conservative populist theme with a kinder and gentler face.  

The governor has a flair for the dramatic, which will serve him well in a race against Trump. In the middle of the midterm campaign, DeSantis managed to pull off a public relations stunt that thrilled GOP true believers and got him national exposure by deceptively recruiting migrants who arrived in Texas seeking asylum with a promise of jobs, housing and free plane trip to Boston — instead being dumped in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts without any of the promised resources or assistance. A Trump-style charade if there ever was one. 

But DeSantis faces his own challenges on his way to the Republican coronation. The GOP establishment is unhappy with Trump, but he still has lots of support from rank-and-file Republicans and maintains a lead over the governor in the early trial heats. Trump is still the go to guy for haters on the right. 

DeSantis will quickly become a target for other Republican presidential hopefuls. The fight for GOP nod will likely boil down to two candidates Trump and someone else. Now, it’s a contest between Trump and DeSantis. Eventually, one of the other Republican candidates will focus on taking DeSantis down to get a clean shot at Trump. There are several Republican White House hopefuls waiting in the wings like former Vice President Mike Pence, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and Virginia Gov. Glenn Younkin. 

We learned from the midterm results that Biden was unpopular but the alternative, Trump, was unbearable. Midterms traditionally are a referendum on the president, but the national Election Day poll indicated that almost as many voters cast their ballots in opposition to the former president as they did against the incumbent. 

Biden is in a stronger position than he was before Election Day. The surprising Democratic performance, the GOP’s tepid campaign and Trump’s 2024 campaign announcement may have cooled the jets of younger ambitious Democrats, like California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who are concerned about the president’s age and performance.   

Biden has already beat Trump and Democrats who have questions about the president’s standing think he is the safest bet to do it again. Those Democrats fear that he might have difficulty against DeSantis. But rightly or wrongly, the specter of another Trump presidency haunts Democrats more than the prospect of a newcomer like DeSantis with fewer blemishes in his background and on his record.  

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. His podcast, “Deadline D.C. with Brad Bannon,” airs on Periscope TV and the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon. 

Tags 2020 election 2022 midterm elections Brad Bannon Donald Trump Joe Biden Kanye West Nick Fuentes Nick Fuentes Politics Politics of the United States Ron DeSantis

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