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 top gov tracker Neil W. McCabe of One America News to the newsmaker line to talk about an unlikely path of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to win the 2024 presidency.
Leahy: On the newsmaker line right now, top gov tracker, national political correspondent for One America News Network. Neil W. McCabe, based in Florida. Neil, What is Governor Ron DeSantis up to this week?
McCabe: Hey. Good morning, Mike. Good morning, Carol. You know, Carol, since the last time I spoke, I understand your mother passed, and I’m very sorry that you and your family are going through that.
Swain: Thank you. She was 92 and a half, and she lived with me for the last 13 years of her life, and we had some great times together. I was with her when she drew her last breath. And so this is part of life. We will all have an appointment with death at some point.
McCabe: So at 92, I think you could say she had a good run.
Swain: She did. (Chuckles) Thank you.
Leahy: Neil, what kind of run are you having today, and what’s going on with Governor Ron DeSantis?
McCabe: Ron DeSantis won by 20 points, as he said at a press conference yesterday when he ran for re-election. And everybody focuses and gossips mercilessly about his possible run for president. Right now, he’s just worried about being the governor of Florida. What he announced yesterday at that press conference was that he was axing all of the diversity bureaucracy in higher education at Florida state colleges and universities. That’s kind of a big deal.
Leahy: And pearls were clutched all over liberal media.
McCabe: Some leftists were blinking away the tears, Michael.
McCabe: I want to make this one point. If you look at sort of the MO as I’ve studied this man, it’s an MO of DeSantis, where he’ll have a press conference for one topic, but in the Q and A, he’ll have a zinger ready. Two months ago, he was giving $5 million, so some guys could build a rail line and some industrial park. But in the Q and A, he blasted China, so that set up his Tucker Carlson hit. Anyway, I just want to point that out. I’m sorry to cut you off, Carol.
Swain: Oh, no, that’s fine. But I have forgotten what I was going to say. (Laughter)
Leahy: It was very important, and it will come to you in a moment. Has he gotten rid of the president of New College down there? I saw a report that maybe did that as well.
McCabe: Yes, there’s been a coup. There’s been a coup at New College. The thing I’m really interested in is nobody’s really talking about it, but Ben Sasse was always kind of a squishy, kind of Paul Ryan, kind of hip, young senator guy from Nebraska. And he actually voted to convict Donald Trump for basically as if Trump had anything to do with January 6 people crashing the Capitol in two years.
No one’s proved this, but Ben Sasse, like, two weeks after the event, voted to convict in that second impeachment. He was always one of these senators who was throwing sand in the gears for President Trump. And so Trump has punished a lot of these guys who voted against him.
Primary voters and other Republicans have punished these guys. What Ron DeSantis did is he hired him to be the president of the University of Florida at a million a year. So there you go.
Leahy: Yes. And I think, though, that the board of trustees had some influence on that hiring process. There were a lot of protests.
McCabe: Yes, I think the governor had some influence too.
Leahy: I think you’re probably right. Carol has a question for you.
Swain: I remembered what I wanted to say. I believe secretly, progressives around the country are cheering DeSantis on because they know that DEI is destructive and that the woke mob is coming after them. And so no one is safe. And the kind of leadership that he has been providing on that particular issue resonates with the American people.
McCabe: I think he absolutely has a finger on the pulse. And it’s interesting; he doesn’t really employ, like, pollsters and consultants. He has pollsters; he has consultants. But what he really relies on is the America he grew up in. And he talks about this in speeches all the time.
He’ll make this sort of side comment where he’ll basically say, you know when I was growing up, we never heard of this kind of thing. This is ridiculous. (Swain chuckles) And so basically, if what he’s talking about did not exist when he was in, like, high school, it’s out.
Leahy: The 2024 GOP primary fight has begun. The only announced candidate to date is former President Donald Trump. He’s already been attacking Ron DeSantis. If DeSantis were to run, President Trump said it would be a sign of disloyalty. I made him governor! I made him governor! Has he forgotten that? Guess what?
There are reports that former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, also the former ambassador to the United Nations, is going to announce her candidacy on Sunday, February 5th. How will former President Donald Trump react to that?
McCabe: He’ll be heartbroken but not surprised. And I think that it’s pretty clear in my study of presidential politics through the decades that if the money is there for you to run for president, you will run for president. And you never know. It’s like a scratch ticket, and you might catch on.
Swain: Nikki Haley would not catch on.
McCabe: But who knew that Rick Santorum had a shot at being President of the United States? (Laughter) These guys, you know, you’re in the game, you get momentum, and things happen. Nobody in 1974, nobody was saying, what this country needs is Jimmy Carter.
Leahy: That’s a very good point. That’s a very good point. And I refer to the GOP race as Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, and the Munchkins. We’re going to invite Nikki Haley to come in and talk about it. Will she take offense at being called one of the Munchkins? (Swain laughs)
Swain: You didn’t mention Pence. You didn’t mention Pence.
McCabe: We’ll see how Pence is doing. I think that what’s going to happen is that Trump is going to get primary opponents. And the problem for DeSantis is that if it looks like DeSantis is going to take a chunk out of Trump and make Trump vulnerable, it’s only going to invite more people in.
Tom Cotton is not going to stand there and watch Ron DeSantis become president for eight years. There’s a bunch of people who are not just not going to allow it to happen. And so the problem with DeSantis is it can only be a kamikaze mission because there’s still going to be millions and tens of millions of Trump loyalists who will never forgive him because everyone knows that if Ron DeSantis endorsed Trump and campaigned for Trump in 2024, DeSantis could help put Trump over the top.
Trump’s a one-term president, and it basically tees up DeSantis for 2028. And so this is the problem. He doesn’t want to wait. And so, because he doesn’t want to wait, he can’t win.
There’s no path for DeSantis because as soon as DeSantis starts making serious progress, all the other people rush in with their money and their friends, and their coalitions to take him out.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
– – –
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.
Photo “Ron DeSantis” by Ron DeSantis.