The Verdict of the Persuadables

President Joe Biden walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on July 28, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

It would be kind to say that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has had a rough week. When the better of the two main storylines with which your presidential campaign is contending is the one about the silver linings of slavery, it’s not salad days.

And indeed, there are obvious truths we see confirmed in both that story and the one about his excruciatingly protracted campaign reboot and the failures of his super PAC. As we’ve talked about before, high expectations, too much early money, and stale strategy were always likely to be hard for DeSantis to overcome. Not to say that he can’t turn things around, only that right-sizing his campaign, getting over Cruz-ism, and learning to be humble and hungry again is going to be very hard to do.

Of the many current agonies of the DeSantis campaign, though, the one about the legacy of slavery and Florida’s U.S. history curriculum is very instructive about how primary politics really work.

Florida Rep. Byron Donalds is a prized surrogate for former President Donald Trump. Donalds is quick and savvy, and he’s a favorite of the Freedom Caucus set. He’s also a black man who is on Team Trump in opposition to his own state’s governor. Donalds went after DeSantis for defending a standard that “includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” 

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