Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. The early stages of the 2024 race have begun.
Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey and Hannah Knowles at WP:
On Trump’s political team, DeSantis is widely seen as the biggest threat. Trump advisers have begun to compile opposition research on DeSantis, and several people close to Trump said he wants to make DeSantis think about whether he wants to get into the race. They plan to paint him as aloof and cold. Trump has watched clips of DeSantis debating, particularly against Democrat Charlie Crist last fall, and has given advisers dim reviews of his skills onstage.
But they have also closely watched the governor’s positive coverage in conservative media, the adulation DeSantis has received from prominent activists, his aggressive effort to build a network of donors and a series of polls that show DeSantis is Trump’s only competitive rival, four advisers said.
Trump advisers say he wants to make it painful for DeSantis to enter the race — and he has repeatedly taken warning swipes.
“We’ll handle that the way I handle things,” Trump said of the potential challenge in a recent interview. “Ron DeSantis got elected because of me,” he said in another. “You remember he had nothing. He was dead.”
DeSantis has mainly brushed off the barbs, contrasting his overwhelming reelection with Trump’s loss. “In my case, not only did we win reelection; we won with the highest percentage of the vote that any Republican governor candidate has in the history of the state of Florida,” DeSantis said in response to Trump accusing him of “trying to rewrite history” on the coronavirus response. But quietly, DeSantis has worked to cultivate some of Trump’s top donors, people familiar with the matter said, and has weighed taking him on more publicly.
And at some point after last August, the famous ad from DeSantis’ 2018 campaign — the one showing him teaching his children to “build the wall” and reading “The Art of the Deal” — disappeared from the governor’s YouTube page.