'Structural' liabilities: Anti-Trump Republicans 'second-guess' DeSantis as more candidates enter race

'Structural' liabilities: Anti-Trump Republicans 'second-guess' DeSantis as more candidates enter race
SUNRISE, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 26: U.S. President Donald Trump introduces Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during a homecoming campaign rally at the BB&T Center on November 26, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. President Trump continues to campaign for re-election in the 2020 presidential race. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Members of the Republican donor class are “ second-[guessing] their support” for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over his “structural” liabilities, leading some to fear no candidate will be able to consolidate enough support to defeat former President Donald Trump, the Associated Press reports.

As reporters Jill Colvin and Steve Peoples note, Trump last week “welcomed” Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) to the 2024 Republican primary race while taking a potshot at DeSantis.

“Good luck to Senator Tim Scott in entering the Republican Presidential Primary Race,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “It is rapidly loading up with lots of people, and Tim is a big step up from Ron DeSanctimonious, who is totally unelectable."

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According to the New York Times, Trump also told an associate he’s “just going to say nice things” about the South Carolina senator.

“I like him,” Trump said in the days leading up to Scott’s announcement. “We’re just going to say nice things about Tim.”

As the AP reports, Trump’s response to Scott’s announcement, in contrast to his relentless attacks on DeSantis, “underscores not only the fact that Trump sees DeSantis as his most formidable rival, but also basic math: He and his team have long believed the more candidates who enter the Republican primary contest, the better for Trump.”

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“They are operating under the assumption that no other candidate will be able to consolidate enough of the anti-Trump vote to take him down,” the reporters write, adding “the field is growing by the day.”

Indeed, nine candidates have already entered the race for the GOP presidential nomination, Politico reports, including “favorites” Trump and DeSantis, “contenders” like former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and “long shots” like Scott and former pharmaceutical company CEO Vivek Ramaswamy.

“The conventional wisdom at the beginning of the year was that the field would be relatively small, perhaps as few as five people running,” the Times notes. “Republican anti-Trump donors were working to thin the herd to prevent a repeat of the divided field that guaranteed Mr. Trump’s victory in 2016.”

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“I’d rather there’d be fewer people, no question,” New York-based Republican donor Eric Levine told the AP as he downplayed the significance of a growing GOP playing field.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who told the AP he’s “strongly considering” running, warned DeSantis’ “structural liability” — like his “struggle to build relationships with many Republican officials in the state” — could cause problems for Republicans.

“There are things that, at least what I’ve heard from the donor class, are something that has made them second-guess their support for him,” Suarez said.

Read the full report at the Associated Press.

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