'Been to this party too many times': Rick Wilson predicts GOP will nominate Donald Trump in 2024
Long-time GOP strategist, author, and Lincoln Project cofounder Rick Wilson believes that the growing presumption that the GOP will nominate somebody in 2024 other than former President Donald Trump – such as newly reelected Florida Governor Ron DeSantis – is perilously misguided.
The party, Wilson warned in a telephone interview with The Guardian published on Sunday, has been through this before.
“The greatest danger in American politics is not recognizing that there are great dangers. The same people in 2015 and 2016 were confidently asserting Donald Trump could never, ever under any circumstances win the Republican nomination, and there were never any circumstances where Donald Trump could beat Hillary Clinton, and then he could never have almost a million people die because of his mishandling of Covid and on and on and on and on," Wilson said. “I know that the Republicans who right now are acting very bold and the donors who are acting very frisky – as Trump starts winning primaries, they will bend the knee, they will break, they will fall, they will all come back into line.”
Trump and DeSantis's once-tight relationship soured as DeSantis's national profile expanded and Trump became entrenched in post-presidency scandals. Trump has on several occasions mocked DeSantis, most notably earlier this month when Trump claimed that the 42-year-old only won his first term in 2018 because he rigged the election.
On November 15th, Trump announced his candidacy for the White House in 2024, giving himself a headstart over whoever ends up competing for the chance to challenge President Joe Biden. Despite Trump's most high-profile midterm picks losing their races – which cost the GOP attainable governorships and majority control of the United States Senate – Wilson explained that Trump still "controls a quarter, at the minimum, of the Republican base." Wilson reasoned that if Trump manages to win early state primary contests, his momentum will snowball and render hopefuls like DeSantis irrelevant:
Even if it’s 15% and he goes into Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and he wins primaries because he has 15% going in, that’s the ballgame. It’s over. It’s done. Everybody else, it’s all over bar the crying.
Right now they’re all talking so much sh*t: ‘I’m not going to get with Trump. I’m going to be with the hot new number, DeSantis.’ When DeSantis gets his ass handed to him, when he gets his clock cleaned in a debate or forum or just by Trump grinding away at him, eating him alive mentally for weeks on end, and suddenly Donald Trump’s numbers start posting up again, all the conservative thinkers who are right now like, ‘We will never vote for Trump again, we have integrity!’ will find themselves some excuse. ‘Well, you know, we don’t like Trump’s tweets, but otherwise it’s pure communism!'
It’s all bullsh*t, it’s all a f*cking game, and that game is going to play out in a way that does not result in the outcome that the donor class thinks they’re going to get.
Wilson refuted the idea that DeSantis holds sway outside of the Sunshine State:
Ron DeSantis won an election in Florida against a three-time loser, a campaign that was run by the best Republican Party in the country, and I mean that because I’m a guy who helped over many years elect many people in the great state of Florida. The quality of our operation here made it look easy.
Has Ron DeSantis been to the rodeo? Has he been out there in the fight? Has he actually faced up against a full campaign of the brutality and the cruelty that Donald Trump will level against him? He has not. It’s like he’s walked onto the field onto third base and thought he hit a grand slam home run. It’s easy for Republicans to win in Florida. It’s how it’s supposed to be: we built it that way. In a Republican primary against Trump, even Trump in a weakened state still has an innate feral sense of cruelty and cunning that Ron DeSantis does not have. How does Trump know that? He watched the debate.
It was nine seconds of the gears moving in his head and you could see the agony on his face, like ‘I don’t know what to say.’ Trump never has a doubt. He may be an assh*le but he never has a doubt. Ron is over-intellectualizing it and I’m telling you: this guy has a glass jaw.
Wilson also foresees Trump quickly knocking DeSantis out of the running:
All of a sudden, all that donor money is going to go, ‘Oh, f*ck,’ and then they’re going to call Ron’s people and go, ‘Hey, listen, we love Ron but we’re worried. We’re gonna have to sit this one out for a little while. Let’s see what it looks like in a month.’
And then a month will pass and all of a sudden Donald Trump is the nominee. That’s how it’s going to go and I don’t say this out of any joy; I say this because I’ve just been to this f*cking party too many times now.
You’re telling me you’re going to send Ron DeSantis to New Hampshire where he has to go and sit in a diner with the Merrimack county GOP chairman and that 79-year-old codger is going to want to talk to Ron DeSantis about the gold standard or whatever and Ron DeSantis is going to sit there and get bored and restless and leave or be angry? I’m sorry. Sell me another fantasy of Ron DeSantis the perfect candidate.
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