Bret Stephens, the ‘Never Trump’ columnist for the New York Times, recently told Gail Collins that if Ron DeSantis became the Republican contender for president in 2020, he would support him over Donald Trump.
Stephens continues to be quite critical of the former president, describing Trump’s barnstorming CNN town hall appearance in May as more mendaciousness, more shamelessness, more aggressive, unapologetic, and nastier.
He said he would vote for Biden over DeSantis or Trump. (This is from a self-described “conservative.”)
Stephens says the Democrats, however, overestimate Biden’s accomplishments and underestimate his unpopularity, which means Trump or DeSantis has a pretty good shot at defeating Biden should he be the nominee.
The columnist who calls themselves “never Trump” has hated Trump since long before his first time in office. For his part, Stephens summed up Trump in 2017 with the words lying, bullying, narcissism, bigotry, name-calling, crassness, ignorance, incompetence, paranoia, and pettiness.
Additionally, he stated he wished Hillary Clinton were president. (Again, this is a “conservative” making these admissions.)
This year’s showdown between the two Republican frontrunners puts Ron DeSantis in a precarious situation. Attacking Trump, in Stephens-like fashion, will alienate the MAGA sect.
Never Back Down, the leading DeSantis-aligned super PAC, made this dynamic clear after CNN’s town hall with Trump last week by portraying it as a disaster for the former president. They tweeted, “How does this Make America Great Again?” after listing Trump’s problems, such as his role in the Capitol riot, his sexual battery case in civil court that he recently lost, and his confidential documents disaster. Nonetheless, that seemingly harmless talking point, which would have sounded banal in any other presidential campaign, was politically devastating, with prominent conservatives criticizing it and suggesting that it spoke to DeSantis’s dishonest nature. According to Semafor’s report, the tweet was seen as a self-inflicted wound by Never Back Down’s executives, who vowed to take precautions in the future.
Only a Never Trumper likes a Never Trumper.