Donald Trump is a man who thrives on attention, so he is probably not thriving right now. Last night, when he announced he was running for president again, even the crowd tried to leave the Mar-a-Lago ballroom where he was droning on rather listlessly from the teleprompter. Fox News cut the audio, but at least its personalities were extolling his speech while saving viewers the trouble of actually listening to it. Another arm of the Murdoch empire, the New York Post, buried Trump’s announcement deep in the tabloid under the headline “Been there, Don that.”
Maybe the most dire example of not getting attention came from the other corner of Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis spoke to reporters in the panhandle before Trump’s speech last night. Since DeSantis’s smashing performance on Election Night, he has been ascendant in the Republican Party. Many see him as a way to advance the GOP’s hard-right agenda without the baggage of a loser candidate facing several federal investigations. When a reporter asked about Trump’s negative comments toward the governor, DeSantis didn’t even say the ex-president’s name. “We’ve focused on results and leadership, and at the end of the day, I would just tell people to go check out the scoreboard from last Tuesday night,” he said.
DeSantis spoke mostly of Republicans’ poor performance in the midterm elections, in which Trump-endorsed candidates losing cost the party its shot at retaking the Senate and endangered chances at the House. “There were a lot, a lot of disappointments,” DeSantis said. “That’s just the reality. It was a hugely underwhelming, disappointing performance.” Later that night, in a speech in Orlando, he boasted of the Florida GOP’s huge wins under his guidance: his own 19-point victory, the winning margin in Miami-Dade County, a net gain of four GOP representatives in the House, and gains in school-board elections by candidates endorsed by the governor. “We were on offense, and we didn’t shy away from big issues,” he said. DeSantis noted his win of Palm Beach County, “which has not been won by a Republican for governor by almost 40 years.” (The county includes Mar-a-Lago.)