The race for the GOP nomination for President is now in full swing.
While there are at least nine GOP candidates, it’s really a two man race between former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
And Ron DeSantis was all smiles when he realized he has huge openings to hit back at Donald Trump.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump are marshaling their forces, raising money, and staking out their positions on major issues.
Style vs. substance
The battle between the two political powerhouses is starting to look like an ideological war that will play out through multiple battlegrounds over the next eight months.
DeSantis and his supporters are trying to probe the former President to find where he is the weakest.
And according to some close to DeSantis, the Governor is convinced Trump is the most vulnerable to attack, not on a specific issue, but on substance.
That’s why DeSantis is expected to make a series of policy-based arguments that center around the claim he can be trusted to adhere to conservative principles and that Trump is simply too easily distracted and undisciplined to deliver consistent conservative policy victories.
DeSantis will also try to make the argument that any promises Trump does make are worthless as he cannot beat Joe Biden.
This messaging, according to DeSantis confidants, is how the Florida Governor will change the current poll numbers.
Trump currently still the frontrunner
But the challenge for DeSantis is a big one.
Trump maintains a large lead over DeSantis in every major poll.
And continues to have a strong hold over many Republican voters who continue to ignore arguments against him.
Despite his checkered past, Trump did in fact govern as a social conservative and was responsible for the one thing Christian conservatives and evangelicals and Catholics have worked towards for 50 years – the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
To counter that, DeSantis is expected to argue that Trump still made many ideologically bizarre personnel decisions — like elevating Dr. Anthony Fauci at the outset of the pandemic.
The DeSantis messaging will be that Trump has no fixed ideology or principles.
DeSantis will try to make the case to Republican Primary voters that they can trust him to stand his ground on tough issues like abortion.
Trump’s attention span for detailed policy initiatives is well-known to be at best limited.
In most areas of public policy, the former President is all too open to deal-making and compromise.
Despite all of this, Trump’s hold on the GOP base is still strong enough to keep him far ahead, for now.
But DeSantis is ready to take on Trump head-to-head.
Some areas of conflict
Most political observers believe DeSantis will focus on five key policy areas to attack Trump.
Abortion will be the most obvious.
There is no secret that successful GOP presidential candidates simply must be pro-life, or at least act like they are.
While Trump was largely responsible for the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, the former President has been less than stellar on the issue.
He blamed the abortion issue for Republicans’ disappointing results in the Midterm elections, has steadfastly refused to say whether he would support a national abortion ban and even described Florida’s new six-week abortion ban as “too harsh.”
DeSantis signed the six-week abortion ban into law this year.
DeSantis seized on Trump’s remarks, hoping the issue helps him with the Christian Right.
DeSantis will take on Big Business
DeSantis and Trump also vastly differ in their approaches to corporate America.
DeSantis believes leftists have taken over so many American institutions that conservatives are wrong to cede these battlefields to progressives in the name of “limited government.”
DeSantis says conservatives must use every aspect of government power to fight back.
Trump has never fully bought into this position.
Foreign policy questions emerge between the two frontrunners
Trump and DeSantis are also split on some major foreign policy questions.
Namely how to deal with Communist China and the U.S. role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
While Trump has been credited for getting both Republicans and Democrats into seeing Communist China as a ruthless adversary and during his Presidency he viewed the U.S.-Communist China relationship through a purely economic lens.
He even praised Communist Chinese President Xi Jinping as he worked on a trade deal.
DeSantis seemingly cares less about U.S.-China trade and more about the national security threats that the Communist Chinese pose.
On Ukraine, Trump has gone further than Mr. DeSantis in ruling out American support for Kyiv.
While Trump called Russia’s invasion a “crime against humanity,” he has steadfastly refused to support U.S. aid to Ukraine.
DeSantis first told former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that defending Ukraine against Russia was not a vital U.S. interest and dismissed the war as a “territorial dispute.”
But DeSantis quickly walked back the “territorial dispute” line, and called Putin a “war criminal.”
These are just some of the areas DeSantis hopes to use in his attacks on Trump.
Only time will tell if these will be enough to cut into Trump’s huge lead in the polls.
DeSantis Daily will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.