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Tipsheet

Sad: Leftists Again Recycling Old and Debunked DeSantis Attack, For Some Reason

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Well, the "some reason" is that they loathe and fear him, politically.  The guy has been turning a crucial swing state redder by the day, and is poised to be rewarded by voters when he's up in the fall.  He obviously has national ambitions, and his critics are desperate to take him down several pegs before he gets anywhere near the White House.  Task one has been to try to draw down his approval, and therefore his victory margin, in 2022.  But by being so relentlessly frantic, dishonest, and demagogic in their attacks, they've handed DeSantis one political gift after the next, catapulting him to national prominence.  Their desperation is so acute, it seems, that they're regurgitating debunked nonsense that's been dormant for months:

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Other blue checkmarks hopped on this bandwagon, apparently forgetting the last time their tribe got spun up over literally the exact same lie.  Even left-leaning 'fact-checker' Politifact dismantled it in 2021, re-upping its 'false' ruling now that the claim has again reared its head:

[The claim is that] DeSantis signed a bill "requiring Florida students, professors to register political views with (the) state." Florida House Bill 233 requires an assessment of the "intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity" at state colleges and universities. Although not stipulated in the bill, the 2022 survey was anonymous and voluntary. Only the faculty survey had a question pertaining to individual political beliefs.  It remains to be seen whether future surveys will change, but DeSantis’ press secretary said the administration’s goal is to keep the survey anonymous and voluntary. We rate [the] statement False. 

Part of what has made DeSantis increasingly appealing to many Republican voters is not just the successful governance and the 'right enemies' advantage, but also his pugnacious style in hitting back at detractors. This often involves ripping the press, the unofficial opposition, but he's also happy to mix it up with the official opposition, too. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has been trying to pick a fight with DeSantis for months, which we discussed in our Tallahassee interview a few months ago. The dynamic benefits both men, each of whom likely wants to be his party's presidential nominee in the near-to-medium-term future. Newsom has been trolling DeSantis by running ads in Florida, demonstrating an eagerness to go 'on offense' against Republicans (something his party's base desperately wants to see).  For his part, DeSantis probably can't believe his good fortune on this front. The oleaginous culture-warrior governor of California wants to force the country into a choice between these two states? You can practically see DeSantis jumping out of his shoes to shout, game on (start one minute into this clip):

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Watch it all.  It's pretty hard to argue with any of those points, and DeSantis was clearly loaded for bear.  He had the numbers at his fingertips.  He's spoiling for this skirmish, which Newsom started.  The 'peasants' line (re: the infamous French Laundry excursion) was particularly sharp, and the population growth vs. shrinkage numbers speak for themselves. Neither of these governors is currently favored to carry their respective party's torch in 2024, but it's certainly plausible that one or both of them might.  And I'm not sure a referendum on becoming California, especially if juxtaposed with Florida, would go well for Democrats.  Incidentally, Democrats and their allies aren't the only ones casting an anxious eye at DeSantis.  Trumpworld has been looking at some of the polling and attitude shifts, and some of their surrogates are zipping brushback pitches at the Florida governor.  

The lines of attack so far?  He's a "career politician," and he's "untested."  Setting aside the somewhat contradictory nature of those claims, do they hold up individually?  DeSantis first ran for office a decade ago, served three terms in the US House (taking one for the team in 2016 by clearing the way for Marco Rubio's re-election push after the incumbent Senator dropped out of the presidential race) before running for governor, and winning, against the odds, in a blue wave year.  He's served most of one term in that role.  Before that, DeSantis served in the Navy (including in Iraq), and was a history teacher.  At 43, he's a little young to be a 'career politician,' especially with that resume.   As for being "untested," I think that's a fair question to raise, and theoretically compelling national candidates sometimes fail in the realm of presidential politics (Scott Walker, Kamala Harris, etc).  It remains to be seen how DeSantis would perform as a candidate for the highest office in the land.  But he has been tested in Florida, facing a non-stop onslaught of attacks and critiques, often at the national level, over his governance.  Every day has been a test, especially since the onset of the pandemic.  Relatedly, and because DeSantis smartly brought up COVID school closures in his righteous reply to Newsom above, I'll leave you with this:

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Actually, many people expected school shutdowns to be deeply harmful.  DeSantis was one of them, and he took action to avoid a predictable disaster.  He's been loudly assailed for virtually every decision he's made, including this crucial and correct one.  Florida has gotten it right a lot during COVID, saving students, jobs and businesses while experiencing average health outcomes from the virus. This isn't a random coincidence:


Again, if Democrats want voters to choose between California and Florida in 2024, I suspect Republicans would be very comfortable with that battle.

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