According to political insiders, the cold war between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump may be reaching a new level.
The two are considered the only real contenders for the presidency in 2024, and Trump currently enjoys a modest lead among overall Republican-leaning supporters. However, DeSantis may be lying in wait and letting the system do his work for him - hoping an indictment will clear his path to the White House.
Ron Crossing his Fingers?
With the 2024 race for president already on everyone's mind, political heavyweights are getting in shape and readying for the big fight.
Expected to throw their hat into the ring alongside Trump and DeSantis are former Vice President Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Ted Cruz, Asa Hutchinson and possibly Donald Trump Jr - which would make for some interesting family dinners.
But no one is garnering the buzz that Trump and DeSantis are, and the latter hasn't even officially agreed to run.
However, one insider close to DeSantis believes that there's a reason the Florida governor is quiet; he's biding his time and letting the system do his work for him.
Politico reports, " ... [a] Republican consultant familiar with DeSantis’ thinking says the governor views the Jan. 6 hearings as a way to eventually get Trump indicted.
'That’s where his head is at. He thinks the goal here is to get Main Justice to go after him,' the consultant said. 'That’s what Ron thinks this is all about.'
The person, however, stressed that DeSantis’ focus is much more on running up the score in his reelection bid. DeSantis, who is already on pace to break state-level Florida fundraising records and is seen as a heavy favorite to win reelection, wants to win by more than the 3.2 points Trump won the state by in 2020. POLITICO reported last week that DeSantis also has no interest in seeking Trump’s endorsement for his reelection bid, another signal he does not see his political fate tethered to the former president who helped make him.
'A five-point win, and I think he would be off to the races,' the person said. 'January 6 or not, the fact that he [DeSantis] is not seeking Trump’s endorsement I think says everything you need to know.'”
Of course, none of it is mutually exclusive. It's entirely possible for DeSantis to be fully focused on re-election right now and hoping for an indictment to clear his path to the White House; after all, one begets the other.
And with DeSantis staying quiet rather than defending Trump, he may be setting himself up as a less drama-riddled option to the former president should he escape indictment over January 6.
Certainly, choosing not to seek an endorsement ahead of his re-election bid this Fall is telling; DeSantis wants voters to stop linking the two in their heads, and the strategy seems to be paying off as the rising star Republican begins to make inroads against Trump's lead with nationwide voters for 2024.
Are Republicans Fed Up with Trump "Side-Show"?
But if Trump is still enormously popular (and he is), why are politicians slowly beginning to decouple themselves from his train?
Because he's exhausting Conservatives, according to some political insiders.
The January 6 hearings are battering the former President on all fronts, and there's little reprieve or way for him to spin what's clearly a disturbing series of facts in his favor.
While voters on the bottom don't seem overly bothered by it - in fact Trump's "stick it to the man" attitude is exactly why they like him - donors weary of it, and weary of the prospects for another 4 years of a president they cannot predict or rely on to further their causes.
Politico adds, "'I think the January 6 hearings are continuation of the exhausting circus that surrounds Trump,' said a close DeSantis adviser granted anonymity to speak freely. 'There are of course the lunchbox Republicans who think this is a ‘mass conspiracy,’ but among the donor class many are just tired of this.'
'It’s a sh--show,' the person continued. 'Some donors are getting sick of the sh--show.'”
Right now, it would take a serious win in the Fall to push DeSantis ahead of Trump, but an indictment could change everything - and those in the know close to DeSantis believe that's exactly what he's hoping for.