Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.
Dear Dr. Ads,
There I was, minding my own business and reading Charlie Sykes’s Morning Shots at The Bulwark, when I came across this item about how routinely weak Republicans’ criticism of Donald Trump has been.
Let’s start with some stipulations: the criticisms of Trump from his fellow GOPers fall way short since they continue to skirt the main issue: his fundamental unfitness to hold any position of public trust ever again.
And, given Trump’s lead in the polls and the well-documented proclivities of the MAGA base, they are also probably ineffective. All points granted.
But it is still worth noting that Ron DeSantis has finally realized that he needs to punch back.
What’s the deal, Doc? I thought DeSantis was running as Trump without the baggage. Now he’s gonna whack the former president with a briefcase?
– Sky Cop
Unfortunately, you’ve stumbled into a proxy war between the former Cheeto in Chief and his former Mini-Me, both vying for the hearts and (small) minds of the MAGAts. This is what changed everything for Ron DeSantis, compliments of the Trumpy Super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc.
Here’s the transcript for those of you keeping score at home.
Ron DeSantis loves sticking his fingers where they don’t belong. And we’re not just talking about pudding. DeSantis has his dirty fingers all over senior entitlements, like cutting Medicare, slashing Social Security, and even raising our retirement age. Tell Ron DeSantis to keep his pudding fingers off our money. Oh, and get this man a spoon!
That finger in the eye has triggered a couple of responses from the pro-DeSantis Never Back Down Super PAC. The first volley, as Axios’s Erica Pandey reported, came in the form of “a small online buy for ‘Gun-Grabbing Trump,’ which was geotargeted to Indianapolis for the NRA convention. The ad juxtaposes Trump’s comments about the Second Amendment with clips of Democrats: “TRUMP AGREED WITH NANCY PELOSI,” etc.”
The spot essentially accuses Trump of sleeping with the Second Amendment enemies. Drive him nuts graf: “Trump cut and run like a coward. Trump the gun-grabber doesn’t deserve a second chance.”
Now comes Fight Democrats, Not Republicans, which Never Back Down launched on “Fox News Sunday.” It asks the question, “What happened to Donald Trump?”
So what, in turn, happened to DeSantis’s old rope-a-dope strategy? The Bulwark’s Sykes points to this piece by Puck’s Tara Palmeri.
It’s only been a few weeks since Jeff Roe and his band of fellow Ted Cruz alumni parachuted into Tallahassee to help reverse Ron DeSantis’s wilting political fortunes, and yet they’ve already picked at an uncomfortable wound in the governor’s tight, sensitive, and less experienced inner circle. Roe’s more seasoned crew, for one, has a far less sanguine view of DeSantis’s current Trump self-defense strategy. They believe that DeSantis can’t just shrug off the former president’s public attacks on him, which coalesce around the notion that he’s an establishment stooge. Trump’s invective may be juvenile but it’s clearly moving the needle on his polling and allowing the former president to craft DeSantis’s public image.
All that brings us back to to the original question: Is anyone winning this ad-fueled slap fight? Let’s go to the highly unscientific YouTube Index for possible answers.
MAGA Pac’s Pudding Fingers 21,000 views 71 likes
Never Back Down’s Gun-Grabbing Trump 9000 views 61 likes
Never Back Down’s Fight Democrats . . . 136,000 views 125 likes
The Doc’s diagnosis: Donald Trump’s cheeks sure seem redder.