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The perfect Democratic running mate for DeSantis?

As we all know, the fickleness of fate can change life and politics in an instant. This week, the nation learned that Florida’s first lady Casey DeSantis was diagnosed with breast cancer. Suddenly, any thoughts that Gov. Ron DeSantis may have had regarding a run for higher office understandably would be cloaked by a fog of personal grieving

One would hope that, given her diagnosis, even the most partisan Democrats would show grace and compassion. Sadly, but predictably, that has not been the case. Twitter trolls used the news to attack the governor and his family.

To her credit, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat who is running against DeSantis in the 2022 gubernatorial election, tweeted: “Our hearts are with Florida’s First Lady Casey DeSantis and her family. We are all praying for you!” To those who might read her compassionate tweet, Fried added: “If you choose to reply to this tweet, please show some empathy. Casey is a mother of three and deserves our support in this difficult fight.”

Like Fried, we can assume that millions of Americans are praying for Casey DeSantis’s complete recovery. If we believe that to be the eventual positive outcome, then what?

Life and politics will go on.

Operating from that belief, Ron DeSantis remains one of the two most viable Republicans to win the nomination for president in 2024. The other is another “Nikki” — former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

“But, what about former President Trump?” some might ask. “Doesn’t he lead most straw polls for the Republicans?”

Indeed he does. That said, I don’t believe he’ll run in 2024.

My hope is that Trump’s massive ego will allow enough room for him to contemplate that his name is so toxic to tens of millions of Americans that his nomination might instigate massive civil unrest. If Trump does believe in our nation, as he says he does, then he should know it would be much better to sit out the election and try to use his influence to help the party’s nominee.

Which brings us back to Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley. Assuming one is nominated, would the other join the ticket as the vice presidential running mate? Maybe, but not likely. Vice President Kamala Harris claimed that bit of history. For that reason, and others, I believe that for Haley it will be the nomination or nothing.

Make no mistake, Haley would be a formidable candidate. Along with a host of qualifications and attributes, she’s also a woman of color, the daughter of Indian immigrants. She knows firsthand the ugliness of bigotry and discrimination. Her story resonates with millions of Americans. 

That said, there is another woman who could check those boxes and one or two more: former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).  

Gabbard broke the glass ceiling by becoming the first Samoan American and first Hindu member of Congress. She served our country as an officer in the Army while deployed to Iraq and Kuwait. She is a foreign policy expert who’s not afraid to call out the “neocon war hawks” or even — in a YouTube video that garnered hundreds of thousands of views — the “elites” responsible for the U.S. failure in Afghanistan.

The United States, especially in the age of Trump, has morphed into the Polarized States of America. The inflammatory rhetoric of haters on both sides of the political divide is wearing down the morale of many Americans who are fighting to survive in unprecedented times.

Americans might warmly welcome a presidential ticket that casts aside partisan foolishness and cheap debating points for the benefit of the people. It’s something DeSantis should keep in mind if he runs for president in 2024.

After the oldest president in U.S. history — Joe Biden — having two fortysomethings who served their country in the military and are willing to reach across the aisle to work together just might be the ticket. In these unpredictable times, never say never.

Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.

Tags 2024 election Bipartisanship Donald Trump Joe Biden Nikki Haley Ron DeSantis Tulsi Gabbard

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