Get Shorty

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference on January 18, 2023. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)

In politics as in war: One way to limit the damage your enemy might do to you is to bomb him first.

The governor of Florida is months away from declaring his candidacy for president, but the early polling (which isn’t actually “early”) makes him a co-frontrunner for the GOP nomination. He’s begun to weigh in on foreign policy. He’s schmoozing with donors. He’s dropping hints during interviews with Fox News about possibly having something to announce on the network later this year. It’s a “soft launch,” in CNN’s words. All that’s missing is a new book with a blandly inoffensive title designed to drum up public interest in the coming campaign.

Wait. DeSantis has that box checked too. 

It’d be political malpractice for his opponents, current and future, to miss this opportunity to define him before he has a chance to define himself. Polls prove that Republican voters like what they’ve seen of him thus far, but how much they’ve seen is anyone’s guess. They’ve probably heard of his war on “woke” Disney and his Martha’s Vineyard immigration stunt, and they’ve surely heard of his contempt for “Faucism” during the pandemic. But have they heard that, in a prior political life, he admired Paul Ryan and wanted to reform Social Security and Medicare?

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