In the week since he easily won reelection, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t said much about his political future.
He hasn’t had to. Speculation is rampant that DeSantis is considering a presidential bid, using the momentum gained from his sweeping victory in Florida as a springboard for a national campaign.
Donald Trump is paying attention, too.
“I would tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering – I know more about him than anybody – other than, perhaps, his wife,” Trump said on Election Day.
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Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, echoed that sentiment on Monday. “I can tell you, those primaries get very messy and very raw,” she said. “So wouldn’t it be nicer for him, and I think he knows this, to wait until 2028?”
While the Trump wing of the party wants DeSantis to wait until at least 2028 to launch a White House bid, there’s a simple reason why he shouldn’t – and it all comes down to timing.
Politics is all about timing. And history proves that.
When Barack Obama announced that he would run for president less than two years after being elected to the Senate, skeptics were legion – insisting that he hadn’t put his time in to earn the right to run.
Those skeptics didn’t go away. But Obama was entirely unhindered by the notion that he was too inexperienced for a national campaign and, in fact, it was something that appealed to some voters.
Obama understood that the timing was right, even though Hillary Clinton was the heavy favorite to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. Timing was everything.
On the flip side, think of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. He was heavily courted to run for president in 2012 as Republicans fretted that they didn’t have the right candidate who could beat Obama.
Christie eventually decided against the race. “Now is not my time,” Christie said in October 2011. “I have a commitment to New Jersey that I simply will not abandon.”
Christie did eventually run for president – in 2016. And it didn’t go well. He dropped out after a disastrous sixth-place finish in the New Hampshire primary. Then Christie endorsed Trump and spent the rest of the campaign subservient to him, tarnishing his image. Now Christie is trying to reinvent himself as someone willing to speak truth to Trump. But the damage is done.
The examples of Obama (on the positive end) and Christie (on the negative end) should guide DeSantis as he makes his decision. Four years is a very long time. Things change in politics. Who has momentum now may not have that same momentum in a year, much less four years.
DeSantis is, at the moment, the hottest thing going in the Republican Party. To do anything other than run for president given that status – even if that means running against Trump – could well look like a massive mistake in two years’ time.