DeSantis kisses the ring in Miami meeting with Trump and it might just pay off | Opinion

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Eventually, they kiss the ring.

Republican after Republican who criticized, denounced and rejected Donald Trump over the years can now be seen fawning over the former president. Most famously in Florida, there was U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio — whom Trump called “Little Marco” during the 2016 presidential primary. There’s Miami U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, who eight years ago said he would vote for Hillary Clinton because Trump was not ”viable as a presidential candidate,” but now can be seen schmoozing at Mar-a-Lago.

Fewer Republicans have chosen to stand by their opposition to Trump, despite the political consequences.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has officially joined the ranks of Republicans who have bent their knee to the leader of the Republican Party who demands nothing less than blind loyalty.

DeSantis and Trump, whose relationship soured after a contentious presidential primary race as Trump repeatedly insulted the governor, met in Miami on Sunday. The meeting, first reported by the Washington Post, has been described as a “potential détente” between the two and Trump’s advisers hope DeSantis will tap into his network of donors to help Trump return to the White House in November.

DeSantis endorsed Trump when he dropped out of the presidential race after the Iowa caucuses but hasn’t been seen campaigning for his one-time ally. The governor must recognize that to run for president again in 2028 and remain relevant, he cannot afford to alienate the former president. Sitting down for a kumbaya moment with the man who nicknamed him “Ron DeSanctimonious” must have been, at the very least, a bruise to the ego of the governor.

It’s been done before. Rubio said in 2016 that Trump’s habit of saying anything he wanted on the campaign trail was “dangerous.” Fast forward to March 2024, Rubio was being considered as his vice-president choice, though he said at the time he hadn’t discussed that prospect with Trump.

It happened again when some of the Republicans who denounced the Jan. 6 attack began to soften their criticism of Trump and the rioters who stormed the Capitol and turned to attacking Democrats for harping on the issue.

Politics isn’t a game of consistency. If anything, it’s calculation and opportunism that wins in the end, no matter party affiliation — and Trump commands voters other Republicans also need to win elections. DeSantis was clearly aware of that even as he challenged Trump in the primary. He pulled punches until he had no choice, and even when he attacked Trump it wasn’t for his lack of democratic values but, oddly, for not being Trumpian enough.

DeSantis will have to swallow his pride if he doesn’t want to have an enemy in Trump. The former president, according to the Washington Post, told advisers during the primary he not only wanted to beat DeSantis in 2024 but also hurt him in 2028.

That’s the ironic twist for DeSantis. He is known in Tallahassee for taking revenge against lawmakers and even businesses that cross him. Under his direction, the Legislature passed laws to target Disney after the company spoke up against a parental rights law. For a couple of years, it felt like there was no checks and balances in Florida government. DeSantis called the shots and lawmakers fell in line.

When it comes to revenge politics, DeSantis has a lot to learn from Trump, who has openly said that, if reelected, he would order the Justice Department and FBI to go after his enemies.

It paid off for DeSantis to connect with Trump when he was a little-known congressman running for governor in 2018. The former president will certainly be happy if DeSantis can bring more wealthy donors into his orbit.

Kissing the ring — to America’s detriment — has worked in the past, and it might work again for Florida’s ambitious governor.

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