Are Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis really feuding? PJ Media’s Stacey Lennox covered the dust-up between the two GOP heavyweights on Monday, and on the surface, it looks like there’s a potentially divisive dynamic between the two personalities.
But much of the impetus for the notion of a feud came from remarks made by DeSantis on the podcast Ruthless which is co-hosted by Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell’s longtime adviser Josh Holmes.
Holmes is one of the finest political minds in the Republican Party and a loyal member of McConnell’s team. And it’s no secret that McConnell is on the warpath against Trump because the former president is trying to destroy the minority leader by publicly humiliating him.
“I like Josh. Josh is great. But he’s a wholly owned subsidiary of McConnell World. And there’s no way you can tell me that this was all a coincidence,” a top Trump adviser said, echoing four others who spoke on condition of anonymity because they didn’t have authorization to speak publicly about private discussions in his political shop.
“Also, DeSantis and his staff knew what they were doing. How many Florida general election voters are listening to the Ruthless podcast?” the adviser asked in an interview. “Now, that said, they might have been hoping for more out of Ron, because, let’s face it, he didn’t really criticize Trump. But they knew the media would instantly jump on it and wish-cast it into existence.”
McConnell is one of the most “establishment” of all establishment Republicans and has never been comfortable working with Trump. For his part, Trump has resented McConnell’s condemnation of Trump for the Capitol riot, when he said Trump was “practically and morally” responsible for it.
On the other hand, McConnell has been quoted as saying he will “absolutely” support Trump in 2024.
A Republican operative scoffed at the notion that McConnell, who has said publicly that he would “absolutely” support Trump if he were to win the 2024 Republican nomination, is plotting to subvert his chances.
“I’m sure Josh Holmes would like you to believe that Mitch McConnell is behind the scenes, moving pieces against Trump,” said Sarah Longwell, an anti-Trump Republican strategist. “But I don’t think that’s it. I think that McConnell is wholly owned by Trump.”
Indeed, it’s hard to see how McConnell profits by goosing a Trump-DeSantis feud. McConnell knows that Trump is the odds-on favorite to win the nomination in 2024 and that at this point, a Republican will be favored to win the White House. Angering either man or setting them against each other would only damage their chances of winning and McConnell’s chances of becoming the majority leader.
Still, the anger by McConnell at Trump for recruiting candidates for the Senate who will pledge not to support him for majority leader must be pretty high. He has been the leader of Republicans in the Senate since 2007 and has a cadre of loyal Republican Senators who owe him everything. It would be very difficult for even Donald Trump to dislodge him.
But McConnell has shown that he’s first, last, and always a party man. It’s not likely he would do anything to damage the party’s chance in the midterms or in 2024.