Live from Music Row, Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed top gov tracker and One America News National Political Correspondent, Neil W. McCabe live from Florida to comment on DeSantis’s agenda, new Trump-given nickname, and Nikki Haley’s 2024 bid for president.
Leahy: On the newsmaker line right now, the great Neil W. McCabe, top gov tracker, reporting all things Florida, and Ron DeSantis for One American News Network. Neil, we have a new munchkin in the race. Did you see that? Nikki Haley’s announcement?
McCabe: (Bellows) She’s terrific. (Laughter) I think she’ll do great.
Gulbransen: You know the best part about Neil, hey, it’s Aaron, by the way, is his ability to deadpan, which translates not just audio, it translates onto his Twitter feed. My favorite refrain from Neil is when he retweets or tweets something, and it’s like the worst thing in the world that he’ll tweet. And it goes, finally, some good news.
Leahy: The report, of course, Nikki Haley announced her candidacy. She knows why; I’m not sure. I guess her big pitch is I’m not as old as Donald Trump. Speaking of Donald J. Trump, the big controversy here is the report. He is denying on Truth Social the account that he has come up with a new nickname for Governor Ron DeSantis. Apparently, he’s been kind of focus grouping on the nickname Meatball Ron. Where do you stand on this controversy?
McCabe: I’m shocked and disappointed.
Leahy: What? That he’s denying it or that he came up with it allegedly.
McCabe: Well, listen, I think Ron DeSantis is a terrific guy, and I hope his press staff is listening. (Laughter)
Leahy: Look, there’s just a report from Donald J. Trump’s very best friend in the media, Maggie Haberman from The New York Times.
McCabe: She’s the Trump whisperer.
Leahy: Yes, the Trump whisperer. Maggie Haberman is claiming that if Ron DeSantis runs for president, he will announce in June. Do you have any inside scoop for us since you’re down there in Tallahassee, right next door to Governor Ron DeSantis?
McCabe: That seems a little late in the game for me. And it makes me wonder what their calculations are. Because the summer before the New Hampshire primary, and you also see it in Iowa, that’s the parade and picnic season, that’s barbecue season, that’s where you show up.
Anywhere in New Hampshire or Iowa during the summer before the primary and the caucuses, you will bump into somebody running for president, and you can just sit at a picnic table with cheeseburgers and fries and talk about trade policy or whatever. It’s an amazing thing that happens every four years.
I guess he would have to have all of his ducks in a row to announce in June to be ready for the summer. The big thing, of course, is, and we’ve talked about this before, is it legal for him to be governor of Florida and a candidate for president?
And so there’s legislation now in the Florida legislature to sort of they’re going to change that law because if you’re the governor and you announce for president, that’s your instant resignation.
This was put in like, 26, 27 because political juggernaut Charlie Crist was the governor of Florida, and they were afraid that he would become President of the United States.
Leahy: That’s a fear. (Laughter) But they’ll work that out, don’t you think?
McCabe: I think that DeSantis has some sway, and if he wants that changed, they’ll get changed. There are also lawyers working on saying that there’s a way of threading the needle so that DeSantis can get around it. But we’ll see.
Leahy: We’ll see how that plays out. I got two words for you. You’re talking about the 2024 campaign. Are you ready? Are you ready?
McCabe: Go ahead. Yes, please.
Leahy: Vivek Ramaswamy. Did you see that report in Politico?
McCabe: Yeah, he’s amazing. And he also was speaking in Florida, and he met with a young conservative, Berny Jacques, who was a state rep from Hillsborough County, who met with him.
And there’s a lot of money down here in Florida. A lot of people talk about California as being sort of this ATM. Florida is also a place where there’s a lot of money. So you see a lot of people show up in Florida to collect checks.
Leahy: Vivek Ramaswamy is the 37-year-old Harvard-educated biotech billionaire, or close to a billionaire.
McCabe: He wrote the book about anti-woke, ESG stuff.
Walker: ESG stuff.
Leahy: You are kind of smiling about Vivek.
Walker: I’ve met him a couple of times. Hi, Neil. It’s Chris Walker, by the way.
McCabe: Good to meet you. I’ve met him at a few conferences and some other stuff.
Walker: He’s very energetic and very dynamic. I’m not sure, kind of going on Fox and talking about ESG is kind of the level of which we’re going to look for from her presidential candidate.
Leahy: I’m glad you mentioned that, Chris, because Neil W. McCabe, as you know, on Saturday we launched The Iowa Star, and of course, our national political editor Matt Kittle, who has big shoes to fill (i.e. those of Neil McCabe).
McCabe: I spoke to Matt the other day. He’s a great guy. He’s in Des Moines. And so we’ve launched The Iowa Star, and we received an invitation from Vivek Ramaswamy’s team.
He’s going to be in Iowa this coming week, so we’re going to have an exclusive interview with Vivek, and he will make his case. You know, Neil, the road to the 2024 GOP nomination goes through The Iowa Star.
McCabe: That’s right. I will say this. When people run for president, they’re not necessarily running for president. Chris Christie is running for president in 2024. He wants to be Secretary of Commerce. Other guys run because they want to sell books. Other guys run because they just want to have an influence on the debate stage.
And a lot of the ideas that the eventual nominee will put in their platform come from some of these minor candidates that people forgot. And so there’s a lot of stuff bubbling up from these different candidates that end up being the program and even legislation of a new president that wasn’t originally their idea, so good. I’m glad he’s in.
Leahy: Chris Christie wants to be Secretary of Commerce. That’s what you call a very low aspiration, isn’t it? (Laughter)
McCabe: There are a lot of donuts. (Laughter)
Gulbransen: Notice my commentary on that was just a sigh, by the way.
Leahy: What is Governor DeSantis doing this week?
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Background Photo “Florida Capitol” by Carol M. Highsmith.