Nuzzle Up to Fox: To beat Trump, you have to visit people where they live, and where they live is Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News channel. Murdoch seems to have dumped Trump for now, so Fox has plenty of openings on Tucker Carlson tonight, Hannity, Ingraham’s Angle, and the myriad morning, afternoon and weekend shows pushing Republican dogma. Trump’s trash talk and exaggerations set the standards for a successful Fox appearance, so contestants should strive to be memorable. They shouldn’t ignore iconic Trump issues like immigration, the wall, trade, regulation, ‘America First’ and the loading of the justice system, but they must find new things to stir up the masses. , so they sound like a choice, not an echo. Every third word out of their mouth should be about Biden’s “disaster” economy, inflation, supply chain. Gender issues also strike emotional chords, and no Republican can fight quietly about abortion. (It doesn’t matter how Kansas votes for now. Anti-abortion is always the way to win Republican votes.) As Gore Vidal once said, never turn down a chance to have sex or to appear on television.
Don’t make Trump wild: While it may be politically satisfying, attacking Trump directly for his many flaws will not improve a candidate’s prospects. Yes, Trump’s status as an accused rapist, racist, liar, demagogue, Putin worshiper and desecrater of the Constitution puts him in a ditch. But Trump fans have accepted the “bad” Trump in order to access the “good” Trump that makes them feel good about themselves and the country. The best way to hurt the ex-president is to go after his the positive points. Cotton explored this territory in February when he lambasted Democrats for passing Trump’s crime bill! This kills two birds with one stone. The January 6 hearings, which have diluted perceptions of Trump’s alleged patriotism, offer another opening. Trump has yet to explain why he spent much of the riot sitting alone in front of his dining room television and ordered no response to the chaos on Capitol Hill. A campaign speech that declares love for Trump but shames him for his neglect could spell political gain.
Be kind to be cruel: Candidates should also praise him as the latter-day Ronald Reagan who restored the country’s Republican virtues, created the Trump economy and filled the Supreme Court with conservatives. After delivering these messages with a smiley face, suitors should drop a “but” qualifier. Pence did so over the summer, touting the “Trump-Pence administration” on the stump but framing it as part of our “past.” He “threads the political needle by defending Trump’s policies, without the aggressiveness,” as Bloomberg put it. The downside to the “kind of being cruel” strategy is that praising Trump with one side of your mouth sounds like you’re endorsing his re-election. Another nice-to-be-cruel option would be to find ways to say that he served us well, but now he’s too old and beat for the job. Virgil Sollozzo expressed this thought in The Godfather after attempting the assassination of Vito Corleone. “With all due respect,” Sollozzo said, “The Don, slipped.”
Trump off the wing: Instead of promising Trumpism without Trump, DeSantis overtook the former president on issues and ignored his existence at the same time. DeSantis makes Trump seem like a moderate by comparison, and that translates well on Fox. “DeSantis, in many eyes, is starting to define the post-Trump party,” veteran Republican GOP Tyler Sandberg recently told POLITICO. DeSantis opposed mandatory Covid masking in schools, which Trump never did, snub mandatory vaccines and kept Florida’s economy open during the pandemic. He waged a culture war on Disney, attacked the “elites” (even though he graduated from Yale and Harvard Law), sought to ban “sanctuary cities”, denounced “wokeism”, taunted the press more caustically than Trump, entered the banned book sweepstakes, and horrified liberals into signing the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill. This week he made monkeypox a political issue, denouncing New York Governor Kathy Hochul for declaring a state of emergency over the outbreak. “They’re going to abuse these emergency powers to restrict your freedom,” DeSantis said. “I guarantee you that’s what will happen.” Look for more Trump challengers to emulate the Governor of Florida.
Ignore Trump’s inevitable insults: Suitors should avoid exchanging nonsense with Trump at all costs. You can’t beat him at this game. Remember the gangster slaps he gave Jeb Bush who tried to retaliate? “An embarrassment to his family,” Trump told Jeb. “A stiff one.” “A nervous wreck.” “A little sheep.” “Lightweight.” And, famously, “Low Energy”. As noted above, DeSantis has made his stealth campaign for the presidency a Trump-free zone. So don’t run against Trump. To run for The Presidency.
Clear the field: Trump can’t be beaten if every prospect named here enters the race. Such wildebeest confusion would play into Trump’s hands by splitting the vote between Trump and a group of challengers, which is why he’s not encouraging any of his would-be enemies to quit the race. DeSantis or another emerging leader would be wise as the campaign progresses to convene a smoky room that invites lesser candidates to walk the plank in exchange for a cabinet nomination. How many people can you promise vice president before it looks like a remake of The producers?
Running against Trump is as scary as crossing a river full of crocodiles, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s not a giant. Joe Biden beat him soundly. And the electorate of 2024 will, for actuarial and other reasons, be different from that of 2016. Moreover, only a few wildebeest end up in the stomachs of crocodiles. Candidates, follow these tips and get started!
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