by Curt Anderson and Alex Castellanos at Politico
Tim Pawlenty’s and Scott Walker’s presidential campaigns can breathe a sigh of relief. The mantle of Worst Republican Presidential Campaign Ever has been lifted from their shoulders, stolen by the crew that ran Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign into the dirt.
As usual, revisionist histories are being written even before the candidate has been officially buried, with DeSantis staffers and apologists offering a variety of nonsensical explanations. However, we need no gossip from inside sources to understand what happened. The debacle played out in broad daylight.
Start with an indisputable fact: At the beginning of 2023, Gov. Ron DeSantis was in first place, ahead of former President Donald Trump. Then acknowledge that the DeSantis campaign and super PAC raised more money than any other campaign, including that of the former president. Many in the GOP billionaire class gushed over DeSantis, promising to spend whatever it would take to vanquish the former president.
Strategy. The DeSantis campaign should have had one. What passed as their strategy, if we can call it that, was modeled after a weathervane. Whenever a campaign has multiple self-described “resets,” as did the DeSantis campaign, it means, from day one, they were strategically nomadic. They kept throwing strategy at the wall, hoping some of it would stick. It didn’t.
The DeSantis campaign should have defined their candidate as Trump-plus,…