Last weekend, I received 26 emails from former President Trump or allied organizations with subject lines: “The Great MAGA King,” “Activate my Trump card” and “Brand new Trump hat, ‘Let’s go Brandon.’” Amazingly, I even qualified for “GREAT MAGA KING STATUS” (in red caps) without donating a dime. And remember, the “Great MAGA King” moniker was a gift quote from President Biden, which Trump has royally maximized.
Included in the 26 were “TRUMP WAR” emails with Drudge Report-like red sirens spewing “news” from MAGA-world’s alternative reality. While “TRUMP WAR” calls itself the “#1 Drudge Alternative,” on Tuesday the real Drudge Report’s headlines screamed some real-world reality, “POLL: HALF REPUBLICAN VOTERS ABANDON TRUMP,” and “DESANTIS CONVENES DONORS.”
Then, on cue (no joke), a new Trump email arrived with blazing red caps: “CONGRATULATIONS! YOU WON A FREE TRUMP GIFT” — accompanied by a video of Trump dancing like a chugging choo-choo with clenched fists that I can’t un-see.
If you ask, “Why don’t I unsubscribe?” my answer is, “I have in the past.” However, Team Trump’s emails are like COVID-19 — morphing into new strains and immune to deletion. But I find it instructive to observe this repetitive, juvenile messaging, which is bound to be studied in political communication courses.
Since mid-June, there has been an increase in Team Trump’s fundraising emails after the House Jan. 6 committee began televised hearings. Is that to counter the barrage of devastating Trump-related revelations? And no surprise when on Monday, ABC News reported nearly half a million dollars of Trump PAC funds had gone to pay law firms representing Trump-allied witnesses who had already testified or resisted subpoenas.
Then last week, in my postal mailbox was an official-looking white envelope from “President Donald J. Trump.” Inside, his name and title were prominently displayed on the letterhead but without a faux presidential seal. It turned out the “Dear Fellow Patriot” fundraising letter was from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, an arm of the Republican National Committee. And with Trump as their frontman, what could possibly go wrong in swing states where the GOP must win seats to control the Senate?
With Trump haunting my emails and snail mail, the explosive Jan. 6 committee hearings and polls showing 61 percent of Americans against the former president making another White House run, a “Ready for Ron” PAC – as in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – caught my attention.
According to the Ready for Ron committee’s news release, its purpose is “to encourage Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to run for President of the United States.” (Does the uber-ambitious 43-year-old governor need encouragement?)
The familiar GOP name co-chairing Ready for Ron is Ed Rollins, the veteran Republican operative who was campaign chairman of President Reagan’s 1984 landslide. Rollins also chaired Great America PAC, which spent $26 million supporting Trump in 2016 but less than $10 million in 2020.
Thus, is Rollins “ready” to trade in the MAGA King for a younger model? Maybe, but meanwhile, he brilliantly triangulates the GOP’s past, present and future. Let’s examine the strategy:
Ready for Ron’s only page is headlined, “DRAFT DESANTIS FOR PRESIDENT: SIGN THE PETITION” followed by a paragraph that reads in part:
“The America-First agenda MUST be revived. Governor Ron DeSantis is the next great American president – like Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump – who will turn our country around.” This is followed by a video that boldly and unabashedly brands DeSantis as the new freedom-fighting President Reagan.
Indeed, DeSantis is a rising national star and on track to win reelection. Nevertheless, Ready for Ron risks drawing attention to the sentiment expressed by Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) – the governor’s likely general election opponent – who said, “DeSantis sees Florida as his political launching pad, I see it as my home.”
However, a DeSantis win would signal that Florida voters support his ambition to become the first U.S. president who is a native-born Floridian. But, then, what would be his timing for a presidential announcement? Look to Texas Gov. George W. Bush in 1998 after he was reelected with 68.2 percent of the vote. Bush waited seven months before making his 2000 presidential announcement in June 1999. So watch DeSantis’s June 2023 schedule if he is overwhelmingly reelected, at which point Ed Rollins should send a defibrillator to the MAGA King.
Speaking of the former president, ultimately, Ready for Ron means the Don is “Ready for Retirement.” But how will Trump – with his hyperactive email communications and president-titled Republican Party mailings – be de-throned without a Game of Thrones-style blood bath?
The answer could be “royal adoration,” as illustrated in Rollins’s quote from the Ready for Ron press release: “The era of President Trump was wonderful, but now, since he isn’t currently running, we must get ready for a new leader, we must be Ready For Ron.” Combined with the previously mentioned statement, “DeSantis would be a great American president – like Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump,” is the royal adoration translation: “Hey Don, you got your GOP gold-plated legacy, now anoint your successor and go play golf.”
Upon reaching out to Ready for Ron, I asked what happens if Trump runs? Do they fight or surrender? In an email, Co-chair Lilian Rodriguez-Baz, the PAC’s chief legal counsel, answered:
“We are specifically choosing to avoid participating in the endless speculation and hypotheticals for the 2024 race. Our focus is building up grassroots momentum for Ron DeSantis so that he can carry the America First agenda forward.”
Moving “forward” with the “America First agenda” while the MAGA founder is crazy-glued to the GOP throne means Ready for Ron and Gov. Ron are royally careening towards an uncivil Trump-style war.
However, the most potentially significant intervening variable in modern political history is if Attorney General Merrick Garland is “ready” to defend the rule of law and bring King Trump to justice for criminal actions relating to Jan. 6, 2021. And then, we all must be ready to expect the unexpected.
Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.
Cross-posted at The Hill and Substack.