Should DeSantis Wait to Run for President?

There have been rumors that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is on the verge of announcing a presidential campaign. While this excites many Republicans who are looking for an alternative to Trump in 2024, leftist comic and commentator Bill Maher says that DeSantis should wait, and he may have a point.

“I personally think that would be a mistake for him,” Maher said on the most recent episode of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher. “Because he’s 46, I think. Just let Trump die… politically, I mean. Or, you know, he’s older. It could happen. I’m not wishing it, but okay. He’d still only be 50.”

DeSantis is actually 44 years old, but the point Maher is making is that DeSantis is young enough that he has plenty of time to seek the presidency and not have to go through a brutal primary against Trump.

“If DeSantis got in against Trump, Trump will do to him what he does with everybody,” Maher argued. “Not just bloody him, it’ll be a battle in the mud — and all DeSantis has to do is wait and he can be president. I normally would say the opposite — get in early before they pick you apart, but in this case, with Trump, it changes everything.”

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Maher has a valid point there. I’ve expressed concern that Donald Trump feels so entitled to the GOP nomination in 2024, he’d be willing to destroy DeSantis if the Florida governor gets in his way.

Related: Are You Ready for the Trump vs. DeSantis Showdown?

But does Maher have an ulterior motive? Last year, he said he believed DeSantis could defeat Trump in the Republican primary. When a viewer asked Maher who would win the GOP nomination in 2024, DeSantis or Trump, during a panel discussion, Maher responded with, “I’m leaning more toward Ron.”

“He’s got more than a shot,” Maher insisted. “I mean, I think he won the straw poll in New Hampshire.”

While his assessment may have changed, Maher clearly believed at one point that DeSantis could defeat Trump — and Maher also believes that DeSantis would have more appeal in the general election than Trump.

“Anybody could beat Biden,” Maher said last June. “Trump might be the one guy who can lose to Biden. With DeSantis, you’re right, because he’s a winner. He runs the third-largest state. Trump is a hotel greeter who lost.”

This is where Maher’s advice to DeSantis seems to be more driven by his own political desires. Maher thinks that Trump is destined to lose. However, right now, polls show that Trump would beat Biden. The last three polls tracked by RealClearPolitics had Trump beating Biden by between three and five points, with an average spread of +1.7 points in favor of Trump. So, can Trump win? For sure, he can.

My gut says Maher is afraid that if DeSantis runs, he’ll go all the way and win the White House. He very well could. But Maher has also convinced himself that Donald Trump would lose — a conclusion he takes for granted even though polls show he shouldn’t.

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