- - Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The Great Never Trump Hope is finally throwing his boxing gloves into the 2024 presidential ring. Here’s how Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will try to knock out the greatest counterpuncher in American politics.

Mr. DeSantis will first try to claim Mr. Trump can’t win. While Mr. Trump decisively beats both President Biden and Mr. DeSantis in national polls, look out for DeSantis-friendly pollsters showing Mr. DeSantis taking key battlegrounds like Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin, and these misleading polls will be gleefully disseminated by the Never Trump media — from CNN, MSNBC and Fox News to ABC, CBS and NBC.

As a counterpunch, Mr. Trump will urge his supporters (particularly disaffected Fox News viewers) to move to more MAGA-friendly outlets such as Newsmax, which just pushed past CNN in prime time, Real America’s Voice (home to former Trump adviser Steve Bannon) and One America’s News.

Mr. DeSantis will also try to pose as a MAGA populist — he is already being tutored by a disgruntled ex-Trump staffer. Mr. Trump need not really counterpunch here as his MAGA base knows you can tell a politician by the company he keeps.

Here, Mr. DeSantis has already allied himself with the MAGA-hating, open borders, China-appeasing donors of Wall Street and Silicon Valley, and the multinational corporations whose bottom lines depend on the offshoring of American jobs and importing of illegal alien labor.

Mr. DeSantis has also received the full-throated backing of the second most hated man in MAGA, behind only George Soros. The Australian globalist Rupert Murdoch has pledged the full force of his Fox News-New York Post empire. It’s not for nothing that Mr. DeSantis has fallen in the polls as his globalist backing has been revealed.

Mr. DeSantis’ third line of attack may be the strongest card he will play to try to split Mr. Trump’s broader Republican and independent base. Mr. DeSantis will position himself as the intrepid Fauci fighter who rejected “Trump’s lockdowns” and the forced vaccination of what Mr. DeSantis will scornfully portray as the “Trump vaccine.”

Mr. Trump has already counterpunched with strong opposition to forced vaccinations and anything remotely looking like vaccine passports. Yet, the best counterpunch Mr. Trump may ultimately throw is this: Even as Mr. Trump was moving mountains to successfully deliver what he thought was a true vaccine in record time, the president was being lied to. I know; I was there.

From Dr. Anthony Fauci at the National Institutes of Health and Dr. Deborah Birx in the White House to Dr. Robert Redfield at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Stephen Hahn at the Food and Drug Administration, none told Mr. Trump that the so-called vaccine they were peddling wasn’t a true vaccine at all but a potentially dangerous immune system-altering jab.

To sell the hated lockdown to Mr. Trump, many of these same advisers vastly oversold the risks of the pandemic even as Big Pharma hid data that showed the COVID-19 jabs were anything but safe.

Most perniciously, Dr. Fauci knew as early as January 2020 that the virus almost certainly came from a Wuhan lab — he himself had funded the gain-of-function research likely used to genetically engineer what is, for all practical purposes, a Chinese bioweapon. By withholding that information, Dr. Fauci foreclosed on the opportunity to design a true and safe vaccine. Of course, to put a little extra zip on this counterpunch, Mr. Trump will promise to hold Dr. Fauci, Pfizer, and the rest of those who deceived not just him but also the American people fully accountable.

As to how this plays out, Mr. Trump will relentlessly exploit Mr. DeSantis’ lack of foreign policy experience. The stark contrast between Mr. Trump, the gregarious billionaire with the common touch, and Mr. DeSantis, the Nixonian paranoid introvert with weak social skills, will also be a factor.

In one scenario, Mr. Trump stumbles, and Mr. DeSantis, now leading the rest of a weak pack, emerges as a winner. Yet it’s hard to imagine the seasoned Mr. Trump would take such a tumble.

More likely, Mr. DeSantis and other globalist elite-funded candidates in the race, such as Nikki Haley, will take whatever pound of flesh they can to weaken Mr. Trump, and here’s the dirty little secret of this scenario: Many of Mr. DeSantis’ globalist elite “supporters” would be just as happy if the Democrats win. Mr. DeSantis is simply their useful idiot to take out Mr. Trump.

In the wildest scenario, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Mr. Trump run (separately) as independents after the Uniparty Democratic and Republican national committees cheat them out of their rightful nominations. That historic four-way race would be more fun than a barrel of Ross Perots.

Most likely, Mr. DeSantis will merely further energize Mr. Trump and his MAGA base, and he will simply serve as a punching bag and foil to keep Mr. Trump sharp for the general election. This is most likely because there is really nothing more anyone can say about or do to Donald Trump that hasn’t been said or done yet to take him down.

Meanwhile, buyer’s remorse is already thick in the air as more and more independents, blue-collar Democrats, and even soccer moms are overcoming their Trump phobia.

Juxtaposed against the multiple messes Mr. Biden has made on the economy, in Afghanistan and Ukraine, at the border, in our schools and women’s sports, and on the mean streets of our major cities, Mr. Trump looks better and better.

• Peter Navarro served in the Trump White House as manufacturing czar and, during the pandemic, as Defense Production Act policy coordinator. Follow him at http://peternavarro.substack.com, where this column originally appeared.

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