Trump’s Special Announcement Was Not Special for Many

From The Poynter Report with Tom Jones:

Donald Trump is running for president in 2024. The former president made the announcement Tuesday night in a speech that lasted more than an hour. And while the news excited some, particularly his Make America Great Again loyalists, the news was not greeted with unanimous approval among conservatives and conservative media.

In a scathing editorial this week, The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote about Trump running for president again in 2024. The short version: They think it’s a lousy idea. The board suggests Democrats might be more excited than Republicans because Democrats see Trump as “the easiest candidate to beat one more time.”

They wrote that his character flaws — “narcissism, lack of self-control, abusive treatment of advisers, his puerile vendettas” — helped cost him the 2020 election, and that the midterms show he’s playing a “loser’s game” by continuing to make false claims about the 2020 election.

The Journal’s editorial board lists several reasons why Trump as president is a bad idea, including that he would have a hard time surrounding himself with good advisors and would be a lame-duck president. But, they say, because the Republican party appears fractured right now, Trump might have enough votes among his loyal base to eke out the nomination.

However, the board writes, “The GOP, and the country, would be best served if Mr. Trump ceded the field to the next generation of Republican leaders to compete for the nomination in 2024. If Mr. Trump insists on running, then Republican voters will have to decide if they want to nominate the man most likely to produce a GOP loss and total power for the progressive left.”

Meanwhile, Marc A. Thiessen, a Washington Post columnist and former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush, wrote “Dear President Trump: Please don’t run again.”

Thiessen wrote, “I say all this in sadness, not anger. I will always defend Trump’s accomplishments in office. But his conduct since losing office has made him unelectable. He promised we’d win so much, we’d be sick of winning. Well, right now, conservatives are sick of losing. Democrats have won the past two elections running against Trump. If he runs again, they will win a third.”

Following Trump’s announcement, The New York Times published an editorial: “America Deserves Better Than Donald Trump.” The Times editorial board wrote, “His new campaign has begun with the same ugliness, lies and chaos as the last, but it poses even greater dangers to American democracy.”

They added that Trump is “unfit for office.” They also wrote, “The case against Mr. Trump is straightforward. He uses demagogy to stoke racism. He lies about matters great and small. As president, he frequently placed his personal interests above the national interest.”

It should be noted that Fox News carried most of Trump’s announcement live, although it did cut away briefly twice for analysis. CNN aired Trump’s speech for about 25 minutes and then cut away for fact checks and analysis. MSNBC did not air any of it, although it did report the news, show Trump on a split screen (without sound) and talk about it on Alex Wagner’s show while Trump was speaking. None of the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) carried Trump’s speech.

Check out this tweet from NPR announcing Trump’s news: “BREAKING: Donald Trump, who tried to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election and inspired a deadly riot at the Capitol in a desperate attempt to keep himself in power, has filed to run for president again in 2024.”

If not Trump then who?

So if Trump is not the Republicans’ best choice, who is? Let’s stop right here and remind ourselves we are still two years away from the 2024 presidential election. A lot can happen between now and then. But at this moment, Trump’s biggest competition appears to be Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Even Trump has been taking verbal jabs at DeSantis, knowing that DeSantis offers a serious challenge.

But in an opinion piece for Politico, Jonathan Bydlak — director of the Governance Program at the R Street Institute, a center-right think tank — wrote, “To be clear, DeSantis is ascending at this moment in part because he won big, and nothing cures political ills quite like victory. But Republicans should have learned their lesson by now about the perils of assuming one win will automatically lead to another — and the perils of creating a cult of personality.”

Bydlak added, “Furthermore, let’s not forget that DeSantis has embraced much of Trumpism as the rest of the nation objects to it. It’s far from clear that his flavor of Trumpism (just as sharp-edged and media-driven, if far more competent and perhaps less charismatic) can have the same impact in other parts of the country.”

DeSantis pushed back ever so slightly against Trump without actually using Trump’s name. DeSantis was asked by reporters Tuesday about Trump preparing to make his announcement. DeSantis mentioned the midterms and said, “There were a lot, a lot of disappointments. That’s just the reality. It was a hugely underwhelming, disappointing performance, especially given that Biden’s policies are overwhelmingly unpopular.”

Pressed further, DeSantis bragged about being re-elected, saying, “At the end of the day, I would just tell people to go check out the scoreboard from last Tuesday night.”

Meanwhile, USA Today columnist Carli Pierson had an interesting read: “Trump is a losing ticket. Here’s how the GOP can move on, starting with Kevin McCarthy.”

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