It’s just a hunch, but I think FL Gov. Ron DeSantis probably screwed himself and hopefully his party’s brand, with what Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. calls DeSantis’s “cruel stunt of flying Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard — now under investigation by a sheriff in Texas and the subject of a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Boston.”
I doubt that there are a lot of swing voters thinking, “Hot damn, just what I wanted to see – a Republican governor defrauding impoverished immigrants and making their lives harder.” People who like that ‘owning the libs’ sort of thing are already on board with the GOP’s worst policies. There’s no value added with swing voters who are looking for constructive solutions and more bipartisanship.
DeSantis’s stunt does nothing to solve immigration problems and it calls attention to the GOP’s inability to come up with any credible immigration reforms. Makes you wonder if DeSantis has the same advisor who persuaded Sen Lyndsey Graham that now would be a good time to call for a national ban on abortions.
E. J. Dionne, Jr. sees it this way: “So DeSantis’s cynical move was, as much as anything, an effort to push aside abortion rights, an issue central to the underdog campaign Democrat Charlie Crist is waging against him….” Dionne adds,
This dynamic is playing out all over the country. Candidates who once spoke of their ardent opposition to abortion are now scrubbing their websites of references to the issue (“duck and cover” exercises, in the words of one Democratic strategist) and touting their own moderation on the issue.
One of the most transparent efforts to reset the campaign agenda: an ad from Republican Scott Jensen, a doctor and former state senator challenging Minnesota’s Democratic Gov. Tim Walz. In April, Jensen said that if he were elected, “We’re going to ban abortions.” Not now. In the new spot, Jensen awkwardly holds his grandchild and declares:
““Abortion is divisive, and Tim Walz is weaponizing the issue. In Minnesota it’s a protected constitutional right and no governor can change that, and I’m not running to do that….”
Lacking a credible defense of the Supreme Court’s Republican majority Dobbs decision, DeSantis and the GOP’s midterm strategists are now reduced to the politics of distraction, and right at the moment when Trump’s legal difficulties are coming into sharper focus. It’s not a good look, six weeks out from the midterm elections.
For Democratic candidates, now is the time to make their Republican debate opponents squirm like worms on meth in front of the TV cameras. It shouldn’t be too hard.