“As strong Republicans, we must restore Law, Order, and Justice to our country, and President Trump is the right person to do it,” Rutherford continued.
So in the name of justice, a former sheriff is endorsing a criminally indicted former president who has called to defund a Justice Department that is still actively investigating him. Cool.
Anyway, Rutherford was joined by his Florida counterparts, Reps. Greg Steube and Brian Mast, in bucking DeSantis in the 24-hour news cycle during his Tuesday visit. Steube told Politico Playbook he hadn’t heard once from DeSantis in five years as a Congressman.
But frankly, all that was child’s play compared to the dagger Rep. Lance Gooden of Texas delivered to the candidate-in-waiting. Right in the midst of a DeSantis’ confab with Republican members, Gooden walked out and announced his support for Trump, stating that he looked forward to joining Trump in the fight to “reclaim our country from the leftist forces trying to destroy it.”
It’s worth stopping to take note here that nearly all of the Republican electoral messaging invokes the existential threat that Democrats and small “d” democracy now pose to the country. Essentially, it’s either us or them, and they will destroy life as you know it.
Previously, presidential endorsements usually hailed a candidate as the right person for the job to defeat their political rivals and lead the country into the future. They usually didn’t paint that opposition as undeniable enemies of the state.
Team Trump had reportedly had an active hand in lining up the pre-landing endorsements, but Gooden’s stunt was sheer serendipity, according to Politico.
“It’s a killer!” reveled one Trump ally in an interview with Politico.
Even some Republican Senators who would seemingly like to find an alternative to Trump and all his dirty laundry threw some cryptic shade at DeSantis.
“To me, the most important thing in the 2024 presidential primary is for Republicans to nominate somebody who can win,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told NBC’s Liz Brown-Kaiser. “I wish him well. I’m not endorsing anybody in particular.”
Ouch. The burn is real.
Bottom line: Trump notched more Florida endorsements than DeSantis during his big D.C. charm offensive on Tuesday—”offensive” apparently being the operative word. Currently, Trump has the endorsements of eight Florida members, while DeSantis lags behind with one lonely endorsement from Rep. Laurel Lee, who formerly served as his Secretary of State.
But Cornyn’s point about a GOP nominee “who can win” will continue to eat away at Trump if several more indictments stack up against him, as many legal analysts suspect will be the case. After all, Trump already lost the popular vote twice, buried House Republicans in 2018, and cost Senate Republicans the majority in both 2020 and 2022.
Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, who on Wednesday endorsed DeSantis, pointed to another immutable Trump drawback.
“I think it’s time to have someone who’s not a baby boomer,” Roy told Fox, plugging DeSantis’ record as governor.
It’s undeniable, however, that DeSantis has been knocked back on his heels in the head-to-head with Trump. So much so that a pro-DeSantis super PAC had to release an ad pushing back on Trump’s charge that the governor would cut Social Security and Medicare.
“We’re not going to mess with Social Security,” DeSantis says in a video clip during an ad that attempts to impugn Trump for double-speaking on the issue.
But it’s exceedingly weak tea compared to the ol’ pudding fingers ad put out by MAGA Inc. War Room. At the end of the day, if DeSantis can’t rally Republican donors, loyal MAGA voters or even his Florida colleagues, how long can he really be considered a legitimate contender?
As the wheels come off for DeSantis, Republicans take aim at Trump at major donor retreat
Showing their usual steely resolve, Florida Republicans balk at Trump vs. DeSantis talk