Neil W. McCabe: Ron DeSantis Is the Vessel Being Used to Oppose Trump

Apr 26, 2023

Live from Music Row, Wednesday 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 One America News political reporter Neil W. McCabe to the newsmaker line to describe Gov. Ron DeSantis’ strategy in the 2024 presidential Republican primary.

Leahy: On the newsmaker line, our very good friend for many years, Neil W. McCabe, top gov tracker, the man who’s reporting on politics for One American News Network. Good morning, Neil.

McCabe: Michael, very good to be with you, sir.

Leahy: Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, the unannounced candidate for president for some reason went to Japan and while in Japan, called for a ceasefire in Ukraine. Now I have a question for you. You’re a military guy. You’re a first Sergeant in the Army Reserve. You are a bronze star winner and recipient. Neil, why is it an unannounced presidential candidate going to Japan and calling for a ceasefire in Ukraine?

McCabe: That’s a great question. I’d also ask why did he wait until Tucker Carlson was fired from his Fox show when Tucker Carlson was the leading opponent on TV or media, anywhere to the support of the Ukrainian Civil War or our side of it. The whole thing seems odd to me because DeSantis waded into the Ukrainian conflict before, and then he just completely backed away.

The only thing I can think of is that they decided that this was a middle ground, right? In 1952 when Eisenhower was running for president they kept asking him, will you expand the war in Korea? Will you end the war in Korea? Finally, Eisenhower said, if I’m elected president, I promise that I will visit Korea and see what’s going on, and that’s what he said. (Laughter)

And so he goes, I promised to visit Korea, and then every time they said what do you want to do in Korea? He says I haven’t visited it yet. I think this is a convenient dodge that they came up with. And, of course, they want to make headlines, and they’re doing it. So he’ll be in Japan, he’ll be in Korea, he’ll be in Israel, and he will be in London circumnavigating the world on a trade mission. A trade mission.

Leahy: It’s a trade mission for the state of Florida?

McCabe: Yes.

Leahy: Come on. That’s thin grue, isn’t it?

McCabe: It’s paid for by private donors through this entity in Florida called Enterprise Florida, which is a public-private partnership, and who knows who’s actually paying for this thing, but it was private donations that are funding this trade mission. So we’ll have to see.

Leahy: Back in November after the midterms, Governor Ron DeSantis just slammed his Democrat opponent but he won by 18 points and Trump’s endorsed candidates didn’t do well. We squeaked through a House victory. We didn’t take the Senate at that time. It looked like, Ron DeSantis was ascendant.

But since then, and almost immediately after Donald Trump announced he’s running for president again, DeSantis has yet to announce, and probably won’t announce till May. But it looks like it’s been Trump moving steadily up as the Democrats have attacked him and indicted him on, one charge soon to be two or three, four charges. Who knows? But DeSantis seems to have slipped, lost his edge. Your thoughts on that?

McCabe: The DeSantis plan is to get everything in order, line up everything, and then go. You’ll remember Mao Zedong’s three phases of revolution, Mike. The first phase is you organize your cadre, right? The second phase is you build your organization out from expanding your cadre but completely underground.

And then one day, you stand up with your fully formed. Army. And they don’t know what hit you. And so what DeSantis is doing right now is that he’s doing that underground expansion of his cadre. So he’s building out his organizations, all of his coalitions, and then when he announces, they all stand up together.

Leahy: Is that cadre being built? The thing about DeSantis is he’s done a very good job as governor of Florida.

McCabe: Yes.

Leahy: But the critique is he’s not that personable. And, most of the Republican members of the Florida House have endorsed Donald Trump. He’s just got a couple. And the reason they say is that Trump talks to me, and DeSantis doesn’t. Does he really have that much of a cadre and will they really rise up to support him when he announces what late May, early June?

McCabe: First of all, he has his dear wife who’s very smart, and she interacts with people exceptionally well, and she speaks exceptionally well. He also has Jeff Rowe, who’s running his PAC and who ran Glenn Youngkin’s campaign and famously ran Ted Cruz’s 2016.

Rowe has had a bunch of wins. Axiom is one of the largest campaign consulting firms in the country, and he’s basically just (Inaudible talk), which was the pollster that usually works with Jeff Rowe.

He’s hiring a very, a group of smart people around him. So yeah, he’s got smart people around him. He doesn’t interact with people well; he doesn’t seem to like people. I’ve had state reps tell me that they’ll be hosting an event that he shows up at and he’ll walk past them.

They’re literally extending the hand to say, welcome governor and he just goes right through him. I have also heard that people, someone in his personal security detail would say, hey governor, did you want to pull in the front? And 10 times out of 10, the governor will be like, no, drop me off in the back.

He never walks through or works the crowd. They’re forcing him to work a crowd now. But it’s, it’s difficult for him. And I think that inability to connect with people is going to hurt him because he’s really just a vessel being used to oppose Trump.

The donors and the media people want to block Trump. The Republican establishment wants to block Trump. The staffers and consultants who work for the Republican party, who run the Republican Party, want to stop Trump.

And so basically anybody who speaks at the Reagan Institute, Ben Sasse, Liz Cheney, Ronna McDaniel, and Larry Hogan, all those people, want DeSantis to be the Trump killer. And he’s taken it up, why wouldn’t you? You run for president because the money’s there to run for president, right? If someone’s going to pay for it, why not give it a shot?

Leahy: That’s a very interesting analysis of twists and turns. What do you see happening over the next month on the GOP side?

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 Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Ron DeSantis” by Ron DeSantis.