One of the most time-honored traditions for candidates for public office is to seek out the endorsements of people whom they respect and who can also potentially improve their standing among core states/constituencies in the process.
While it’s debatable how much that ultimately helps them, something that in my opinion does grease the pathway with primary voters in particular is an unintentional endorsement that is meant to hurt the candidate but which in reality can galvanize voters and drive them towards the candidate in question.
Though it’s too early to tell what impact it will have, I suspect that snide remarks Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) made about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in an upcoming biography on the retiring Senator’s life will work to DeSantis’ advantage in the 2024 presidential race (bold/italics emphasis added by Politico):
We’ve already learned, via the Atlantic’s recent excerpt, about Romney’s now-infamous take on the junior senator from Ohio (“I don’t know that I can disrespect someone more than J. D. VANCE”) and his unvarnished view of his party’s last vice president (“No one had been more loyal, more willing to smile when he saw absurdities, more willing to ascribe God’s will to things that were ungodly, than MIKE PENCE”).
Well, it turns out Coppins recorded a lot more Romneyisms, and we got our hands on an exclusive preview:
Mitt on RON DeSANTIS: “There’s just no warmth at all.” On DeSantis posing for selfies with Iowa voters: “He looks like he’s got a toothache.” More: “He’s much smarter than Trump … You might point out, ‘Mitt, DeSantis is real smart — do you want an authoritarian who’s smart or one who’s not smart?’ … I realize there’s a peril to having someone who’s smart and pulling in a direction that’s dangerous.”
From @playbookdc, another preview of the new Mitt Romney biography, in which Romney, consumed with old resentments, appears to dump on everyone who ever ran against him. https://t.co/0eYO0y1Ekt pic.twitter.com/M7DoHf3Z3q— Byron York (@ByronYork) October 19, 2023
The DeSantis campaign has already responded accordingly:
Mitt Romney warns that @RonDeSantis is “dangerous” and “authoritarian”, presumably because he has enacted conservative policy instead of just talking about it.
Now, the “DeSantis is more dangerous/smart than Trump” narrative has been out there for a good couple of years now, and has primarily been pushed by the Usual Suspects on the left and in the mainstream media in an effort to scare voters off of DeSantis, who they have made very clear they fear much more than a second Trump term.
But as I’ve noted before, these attacks typically don’t go according to plan, and in my view that will be especially true now that the characterization has come from Mitt Romney, who as far as most Republican voters go is Exhibit A on how backing the supposedly “respectable candidate” (read: moderate/left-leaning Republican) in a presidential race gets you absolutely nowhere, left without even a lame door prize after all the smoke and dust has cleared.
In other words, if Romney thinks he’s going to hurt DeSantis with this one, he’s got another thing coming.