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Ron DeSantis’ Martha’s Vineyard stunt gives Republicans the midterm fight they crave and takes focus off Trump 2024 and abortion rights, GOP operatives say

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters at a campaign stop at the Keep Florida Free Tour at Horsepower Farm in Geneva.  DeSantis faces former Florida Governor Charlie Crist in the November general election for Florida governor.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters at a campaign stop at the Keep Florida Free Tour at Horsepower Farm in Geneva. DeSantis faces former Florida Governor Charlie Crist in the November general election for Florida governor.Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

  • Polls show that voters trust Republicans more than Democrats on immigration and border security.

  • DeSantis’ political stunt at Martha’s Vineyard pushed issues to front page news ahead of the midterm elections.

  • Republicans welcome the change of subject from abortion and Trump.

When Florida Governor Ron DeSantis organized flights to send immigrants and asylum seekers from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, many observers saw a ploy meant to raise the political profile of Republicans ahead of a possible 2024 White House tour.

But according to GOP activists, the move also gave Republicans running for Congress an opportunity to meddle with illegal immigration and border security, topics they demanded be placed at the center of this fall’s midterm elections.

DeSantis’ timing is perfect for Republicans and allows the governor to continue portraying himself as the national GOP leader that others in the party will follow.

Since August, Democrats have been more upbeat about their chances in the November midterm elections thanks to legislative victories in Congress, cuts in gas prices, and a threat to push the Republican Party for a nationwide abortion ban.

They also managed to highlight former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly sparked a run in the White House in 2024, the subject of an FBI investigation of classified documents, and is facing a $250 million fraud lawsuit.

But last week, DeSantis threw a wrench into the political conversation by removing a page from Trump’s 2016 campaign rulebook. Flights carrying immigrants injected the national debate into the national debate, forcing the White House to respond.

While DeSantis’ actions are legally challenged and viewed by critics as a cruel ploy to mislead vulnerable people, Congressional Republicans have publicly welcomed DeSantis’ highlight on the issue.

Republicans prefer to keep voters focused on issues that vote well, including economic issues, crime, immigration and border security.

“Democrats are trying very hard to make abortion, Trump, and 2024 the issue,” Saul Anuzis, managing partner of Coast to Coast Strategies, LLC, a political consulting firm, told Insider. “The challenge is that the other issues are real and affect people on a daily basis.”

“Vote for the Republicans,” Anuzis added. “They just have to stay in the message and not get distracted.”

Republicans already knew they had an advantage on these issues even before the Martha Vineyard controversy. Since March 2021, the Republican National Congress Committee, which works to elect Republicans in US House races, has sent 357 emails about the “Biden border crisis” to reporters.

A Republican familiar with the House races, who asked not to be named to speak frankly, said the DeSantis-led Martha’s Vineyard trips brought renewed interest in the issue.

“It drew so much attention to the border crisis that it got lost,” the person said.

Above all, Republicans are closely watching trends that show Democrats are seeing a decline in support for Hispanic voters.

Given all of this, there’s really no downside to DeSantis in stirring up fate on immigration, Trump’s former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told Insider in an email.

“People who think our border policy is a disaster support what he did — and all countries, in fact, should bear the brunt of the current immigration policy,” Mulvaney said.

“People who love politics as it is hate DeSantis anyway,” he added.

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But there was one notable exception among prominent Republicans. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and former White House adviser, criticized DeSantis’ move this week, telling Fox News he was “deeply disturbed” that “humans” are “using political pawns.”

Kushner’s comments may provide further evidence that Trump sees DeSantis’ eye-catching stunt as a threat to his re-election bid in 2024.

District resident Rosemary Aguero hands pizza to a group of Venezuelan immigrants from the back of her pickup truck across from the MRC on September 19, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas.  The San Antonio Immigrant Resource Center is the home of two planes of Venezuelan immigrants that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent across Florida to Marthas Vineyard.

District resident Rosemary Aguero hands pizza to a group of Venezuelan immigrants from the back of her pickup truck across from the MRC on September 19, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas. The San Antonio Immigrant Resource Center is the home of two planes of Venezuelan immigrants that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent across Florida to Martha’s Vineyard.Jordan Vonderhaar / Getty Images

Republicans are playing with illegal immigration

Republicans in Congress have welcomed the shift in the national conversation to immigration and border security. The topics could stay in the headlines for weeks if DeSantis follows up on comments he has made publicly about sending immigrants to Delaware, the home state of President Joe Biden.

The governor’s actions allowed Republicans to highlight that two million people were caught entering the United States illegally this fiscal year. Republicans also criticized Vice President Kamala Harris’ comments in an interview with “Meet the Press” on September 11, in which she said the borders were “safe.”

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who worked under the Trump administration, said he encouraged congressional Republicans to go to the border so she would get more media coverage. But he said DeSantis and Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas “worked” to draw attention to the issue.

“Nobody’s going to cover this issue until they do,” Sean Spicer, who now hosts the Spicer & Co political talk show on Newsmax, said of DeSantis. “On my show, we cover it almost every night.”

Republicans in Congress pushed it even further.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he agreed with DeSantis’ actions and used his rhetoric to criticize Democrats on illegal immigration. This week, the Republican Senate National Committee linked record border concerns to the policies of Biden and Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona, a Democrat they are trying to oust in November.

Republicans like Senator Marco Rubio of Florida drop the charges too hypocrisy. They have accused liberal cities of supporting lax immigration policies while not facing the same human suffering and national security struggles as border towns, which provide aid to the thousands of immigrants who arrive each month.

They cited comments by Democratic officials who said cities were overwhelmed after Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey moved immigrants to New York and Washington, D.C.

“For a lot of people on the left, sanctuary cities and welcoming illegal immigrants is the bumper sticker,” Spicer said. “They have no idea what it really is.”

The party often accuses Biden of not doing enough to help. White House Press Secretary Karen Jean-Pierre responded that if governors are “really concerned with border security,” they should encourage GOP senators to vote in favor of Biden’s request for Homeland Security funding.

DeSantis publicly urged Biden to reinstate a Trump-era policy that forced asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases were being processed, and asked Republicans to hold talks on immigration during a rally in Wisconsin on Sunday.

This seems to be the plan. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has proposed the Republican Party’s agenda published on Wednesday, called the “Commitment to America,” prominently suggesting tougher immigration measures including a requirement for proof of legal residency in order to work.

Representative Elise Stefanik, chair of the House Republican Convention, held a news conference Monday highlighting an NBC News poll that included results about voters’ attraction to Republicans on immigration and border security.

DeSantis is ready for re-election in Florida and it is not yet clear what effect his actions at Martha’s Vineyard will have on his campaign. On Wednesday, the Democratic challenger to Governor Charlie Crist accused DeSantis of trying to “draw attention” from Florida’s 15-week abortion ban, which does not include exceptions for rape or incest.

“His inhumanity now is comparable to his brutality and disrespect for women,” Crist said.

As for the future of the White House, DeSantis’ immigration-trafficking lawsuit is unlikely to cause any lasting damage to the party or DeSantis’ suspected presidential ambitions because 2024 remains a long way off, predicted Jeff Grapponi, a Republican Party strategist at Rokk political consultancy. Solution.

“We are not yet in the opening gate for the 2024 race,” Grapponi told Insider. “When the world of the candidates is known, we will have a better idea of ​​how certain issues will affect Republican fortunes in 2024.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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