Reviews | Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign isn’t over yet

None of this is easy, but with strong support from Republican donors, it is doable.

More fundamentally, a presidential candidate needs a personal narrative that resonates with their political message in a way that candidates for lower office simply do not have. Without one, they rarely succeed. Barack Obama was a revolutionary African-American candidate for a country that needed the audacity of hope. Mr. Trump was the foreign billionaire of a country that needed to be great again.

What is Mr. DeSantis? He’s spent the past few months talking about his record in Florida more than himself, which is admirable in a way, but the politicians don’t tell a story. At the moment, the average Republican knows little or nothing about his baseball career at Yale, his military service during the War on Terror, his wife’s battle with breast cancer, or his life as a busy father of three young children. On a recent trip through Iowa, his wife, Casey, spoke more personally about their life together; there will have to be more.

Much has been said lately about Mr. DeSantis’ indifference. Even if it has been exaggerated, there is no doubt that he is not a Bill Clinton-like politician who preys on people. For him, retail politics is clearly a job, and he has to do it. His team now makes him stay after the events, to rejoice. He will have to do it wherever he goes, without showing boredom or annoyance, lest he confirm the idea that he lacks a personal touch.

He will have to put his feet firmly on delicate questions in a Republican primary: what does he think of the legitimacy of the 2020 election? Where is it now on rights reform? Perhaps his worst moment in the pre-announcement phase was his backtracking on a poorly worded statement calling the Ukraine war a “territorial dispute,” which appalled both GOP supporters and opponents of large-scale aid to Ukraine.

Then, of course, there is the big looming question of how to respond to Mr. Trump’s attacks. Ignoring them, as Mr. DeSantis has mostly done this spring, seems weak; responding risks playing Mr. Trump’s game. No Republican has yet figured out this conundrum except Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia.


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