Inside GOP politics, Trump is increasingly on defense, while DeSantis is on offense

But according to the New York Times, Trump was not invited to campaign in the state, and among his opponents was JD Vance, the Republican nominee for the US Senate who is fighting Democrat Tim Ryan in the state’s biggest contest.

Not only was Trump not invited, but Democrats scoffed at the fact that he decided to hold his rally during a football game in Ohio State. That was a big no go. It seemed clueless, especially since the team is fighting for the national championship this year.

The rally appeared to create the worst possible situation for local Republicans. They faced tons of political disadvantages and no political advantages if they participated. But if they left it out, they risked angering the MAGA Republicans.

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Why the political downside? Trump is becoming less popular.

An NBC News poll over the weekend found that just 34 percent of registered voters nationwide had a positive opinion of Trump, while 54 percent had a negative opinion. That’s a net minus 20 points. That’s 15 points worse than when he left in January 2021.

Why no political advantage? The rally was not like past Trump rallies, which were broadcast live on major cable networks. This rally was largely ignored. When this was reported, the media realized that for the first time Trump was speaking about a song that sounded like the anthem of the QAnon conspiracy group to the audience. Many in the crowd responded with the QAnon salute.

Cable news and national newspapers were mostly focused on other things on Saturday night.

Alongside Queen Elizabeth II’s upcoming funeral, there has been non-stop discussion of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ stunt of flying migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.

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Human rights activists and lawyers sharply criticized the move. The Democrats pointed out that it was a matter of politics with vulnerable people.

But here’s the thing: DeSantis was actively trying to change the national conversation in a way he believed would help Republicans.

Since August, Democrats have built significant political momentum. President Biden’s poll numbers are at their highest in 11 months. Analysts say Democrats are now the slight favorites to retain control of the US Senate after the midterm elections. Some even wonder if House Democrats can do the same, which is much more difficult to achieve.

A key reason for this momentum was the US Supreme Court’s decision this summer to set the precedent Roe v. Raise Wade for abortions. Another major reason was the ever-growing legal mess Trump is facing.

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DeSantis briefly brought immigration back into the discussion.

And while Trump isn’t invited to campaign with high-profile candidates, DeSantis was — a lot. Most recently, he was in Pennsylvania, Kansas and Wisconsin, where the Republican gubernatorial nominee said DeSantis is a role model to follow.

How DeSantis is viewed by voters, the same NBC News poll found that DeSantis is viewed 15 points more favorably than Trump, although many are still learning about DeSantis.

On Saturday night, Trump was on the defensive and didn’t offer much support to his party as his legal troubles mounted.

DeSantis was the one playing offense and at least trying to help. This could be a subtly important point heading into 2024 when they could face each other in a ballot.

James Pindell can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @jamespindle and on Instagram @jameswpindell.

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