Boston Herald

DeSantis can beat Biden, his real test is Trump

- Peter Lucas is a veteran Massachuse­tts political reporter and columnist.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis can defeat President Joe Biden.

Biden has dropped so low in the polls on all the issues that the only way he can get reelected is by getting the millions of illegal immigrants he let into the country vote for him.

Which means that practicall­y any Republican can beat him, especially a candidate like DeSantis.

But first the 44-year-old governor must get by Donald Trump, 76, which will be no easy task.

While the field of Republican presidenti­al candidates continues to grow, there is hardly a candidate—outside of DeSantis—with the standing and toughness needed to stand up to the pugnacious Trump.

A couple of the candidates, unannounce­d and official, worked for Trump (Vice President Mike Pence, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley) while a third potential candidate (Chris Christie) tried to but failed to get hired.

One only has to recall how Trump, with his slash and burn technique, wrecked the candidacy of several GOP opponents in the 2016 television debates and ended up as the last man standing. Candidates seeking civil discourse don't stand much of a chance debating Trump.

He is expected to slash and burn again. Only this time Trump's opponents will be on guard. DeSantis is no cream puff.

Unlike most of the other GOP hopefuls, DeSantis has a solid conservati­ve record of achievemen­t as governor to run on, a record that is fresh in peoples' minds.

People from crime ridden, high tax states and cities like New York and elsewhere are moving to Florida not because of

Donald Trump and Mara-Lago but because of Ron DeSantis and Tallahasse­e.

DeSantis has made Florida the most attractive state in the country.

Ideologica­lly speaking, DeSantis is Trump without the braggadoci­o and baggage. But he does have just enough of the Trump swagger to make him a formidable opponent.

While DeSantis is well behind Trump in the polls, he is the main threat in what is shaping up as a two-man contest for the GOP presidenti­al nomination.

Trump knows this, which is why his wellfunded PACs have spent $50 million in television ads attacking and ridiculing DeSantis well before DeSantis officially announced his candidacy, which he did Wednesday night.

The bad blood between the two would diminish the possibilit­y—as remote as it might seem— that there could be a Trump/ DeSantis ticket, with the understand­ing that DeSantis would succeed Trump after four years when DeSantis would be just 48 years old.

Aside from the war of words between the two, DeSantis' first real test will come in January at the Iowa Republican caucus. If DeSantis can beat Trump in Iowa, where the first contest of the campaign takes place, his candidacy would receive a tremendous boost going into the New Hampshire primary the following week.

It would show Republican­s across the country that, not only could the former president be beaten, but that conservati­ve Republican­s could have Trumpism without Trump.

DeSantis will play up a list of recent Florida conservati­ve accomplish­ments—fresh in voters' minds—that appeal to Iowa Republican­s, like the six-week prohibitio­n on abortion, prohibitin­g biological men from competing in women's sports and banning the teaching of LGBTQ issues in public schools, to name a few.

But it would be a mistake to sell Trump short. While losing the Iowa caucus to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in 2016, Trump went on to win the New Hampshire GOP primary by a wide margin and then went on to become president.

This time it is different, though. While controvers­ies swirled around candidate Trump in 2016, they pale in significan­ce to what Trump is going through now.

Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in relation to hush money allegedly paid to porn star Stormy Daniels. His trial is scheduled for March.

And Special Counsel Jack Smith is soon to report on his investigat­ion of the mishandlin­g of classified documents by Trump at his Mar-a-Lago home. And there is more.

While Trump is running for the White House, he will also campaign to stay out of the Big House.

 ?? WILFREDO LEE, FILE — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last week announced that he’s running for president.
WILFREDO LEE, FILE — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last week announced that he’s running for president.
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