In the week since he was easily re-elected, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t said much about his political future.
He didn’t have to. Speculation is rife that DeSantis is considering a presidential bid, using the momentum gained from his landslide victory in Florida as a springboard for a national campaign.
Donald Trump is also careful.
“I’ll tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering — I know more about him than anyone — other than, maybe, his wife,” Trump said on Election Day.
Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, echoed that sentiment on Monday. “I can tell you these primaries are getting very messy and very raw,” she said. “So wouldn’t it be nicer for him, and I think he knows this, to wait until 2028?”
While the Trump wing of the party wants DeSantis to wait until at least 2028 to launch a White House bid, there’s a simple reason he shouldn’t — and it all comes down to timing.
The policy is everything on the schedule. And history proves it.
When Barack Obama announced he would run for president less than two years after being elected to the Senate, skeptics abounded – insisting he hadn’t been slow to earn the right to run .
These skeptics are not gone. But Obama wasn’t bothered by the idea that he was too inexperienced for a national campaign and, in fact, that was something that appealed to some voters.
Obama understood that the time had come, even though Hillary Clinton was the heavy favorite to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. The time was critical.
On the other hand, consider former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He was heavily courted to run for president in 2012 as Republicans fretted over having the right candidate who could beat Obama.
Christie ultimately decided not to participate in the race. “Now is not my time,” Christie said in October 2011. “I have a commitment to New Jersey that I just won’t let go.”
Christie finally ran for president — in 2016. And it didn’t go well. He dropped out after a disastrous sixth-place finish in the New Hampshire primary. Then, Christie endorsed Trump and spent the rest of the campaign in his subservience, tarnishing his image. Now Christie is trying to reinvent herself as someone willing to tell Trump the truth. But the damage is done.
The examples of Obama (on the positive side) and Christie (on the negative side) should guide DeSantis in his decision. Four years is a very long time. Things are changing in politics. Who has momentum now may not have the same momentum in a year, let alone in four years.
DeSantis is, right now, the hottest thing happening in the Republican Party. To do anything other than run for president given that status — even if it means running against Trump — may well look like a huge mistake two years from now.