DeSantis set to campaign for GOP candidates — including Doug Mastriano and Kari Lake

Source: Hot Air

He has three motives in doing this.

DeSantis will travel to New Mexico, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Ohio this month in support of GOP candidates, including Ohio Republican candidate for Senate JD Vance, Pennsylvania’s GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, Arizona Republican candidate for Senate Blake Masters and GOP nominee for governor Kari Lake.

Turning Point Action is hosting, and organizing the rallies with DeSantis in an effort to “unite” the Republican Party.

“Gov. DeSantis is America’s governor and one of the most popular leaders in America,” Charlie Kirk, founder and president of Turning Point Action, told Fox News. “He has become the model for a new conservative movement that is willing to stand on principle and to actually fight on behalf of the values of his voters.”

The first motive is the traditional one for young governors with national ambitions. He’s looking to make friends and earn favors across the map in anticipation of a future presidential run. Not everyone whom he’s endorsing would endorse him over Trump in a 2024 primary — in fact, probably none would — but by making nice with them he can probably prevent them from turning into future attack dogs against him on Trump’s behalf. Lake, Mastriano, Vance, and Masters are all destined to be major populist influences on the party if they win (all for the worst). DeSantis needs them on the sidelines, or at least close to it, if he challenges Trump. “What Gov. DeSantis has done in Florida has been the gold standard of bold conservative governance in America,” Lake gushed to Fox News about their upcoming rally. “I’m excited to work with him when I’m governor, I’m honored to call him an ally and I can’t wait for him to join me in taking the message and vision of our ‘America First’ campaign out to the masses.” Mission accomplished.

The second motive is to stay on Trump’s good side, at least until DeSantis is safely reelected in November. His old friend Matt Salmon recently leaned on him to endorse Karrin Taylor Robson over Lake in the home stretch of Arizona’s gubernatorial primary, but DeSantis held off. Backing Robson would have aligned him with establishment figures in the party like Doug Ducey and Mike Pence against Trump and Lake, and DeSantis doesn’t want to give Trump any easy openings to accuse him of being a RINO. So he stayed neutral in the AZ primary and is now ready to roar on behalf of Lake and Mastriano and Vance and Masters, all of whom, not coincidentally, are also backed by Trump. It’s hugely important for DeSantis’s electability argument in 2024 that he not only wins his gubernatorial election this fall but that he wins big; by siding with Trump on some key endorsements, he’s staying in Trump’s good graces and denying him a pretext to attack in hopes of reducing DeSantis’s margin of victory.

Which brings us to the third reason: DeSantis is looking for ways to signal to MAGA voters that he’s down with the coup. Revisit Liz Cheney’s now-famous critique of him in the Times yesterday.

Ms. Cheney suggested she was animated as much by Trumpism as Mr. Trump himself. She could support a Republican for president in 2024, she said, but her redline is a refusal to state clearly that Mr. Trump lost a legitimate election in 2020.

Asked if the ranks of off-limits candidates included Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, whom many Republicans have latched onto as a Trump alternative, she said she “would find it very difficult” to support Mr. DeSantis in a general election.

“I think that Ron DeSantis has lined himself up almost entirely with Donald Trump, and I think that’s very dangerous,” Ms. Cheney said.

DeSantis *has* kissed a lot of Trump ass, most notably as a gubernatorial candidate in 2018, but Mike Pence kissed a lot of Trump ass too and ended up affirming the legitimacy of Biden’s victory on January 6. By contrast, by rallying for two hardcore 2020 election truthers in Lake and Mastriano, DeSantis is condoning trutherism without explicitly stating his support for it. He’ll be walking that tightrope for the rest of his life, never quite endorsing Trump’s darkest fantasies about having been cheated but certainly never repudiating them either. His strategy towards those who might consider voting for him for president will be “choose your own adventure.” If you want to believe that RDS isn’t a coup supporter, the fact that he’s never bluntly backed Trump’s attempt to overturn the election should reassure you. If you want to believe he *is* a coup supporter, look no further than the fact that he’s rallying for coup supporters.

Either way, Benjy Sarlin is right about this:

Precisely. Gun to his head, DeSantis might admit that the election wasn’t rigged. But he’s not bothered enough by someone who thinks it was that he won’t hop on a plane, fly halfway across the country, and try to get them elected to an office that would hand them tremendous power over whether the next presidential election in their state is or isn’t certified. Offered a choice between a Democrat and an autocrat (or autocrat-enabler) in races where he’s under no obligation to choose, he’s going to bat for the autocrats.

Looks like Liz Cheney was right again. She usually is.

By the way, according to Fox, the August 19 rally in Pennsylvania featuring DeSantis is for Mastriano, with no mention of Mehmet Oz. I’m sure Oz would kill to appear alongside a figure as popular as DeSantis, which means if he’s not part of the event then it must be at another party’s insistence. Did Mastriano not want him there? Or did DeSantis conclude that he was fine campaigning with an insurrectionist but not a RINO who’s likely to lose?

I’ll leave you with this. DeSantis has cynical reasons for endorsing Lake, but he’s a cynical actor. Doug Ducey isn’t, or at least not as much, but even he evidently feels duty-bound to help elect insurrectionists so long as they’re wearing the right team jersey. Just as friends and allies can disagree about the proper top income tax bracket, they can also disagree about whether American democracy should have been overturned to keep Donald Trump in power.