Joe Scarborough's split political personality was on glaring display on today's Morning Joe.
On the one hand, there was Scarborough's seething hatred of Donald Trump. The clip begins with Scarborough shouting: "he's guilty! He's guilty!" Scarborough also offered a relatively objective take that Ron DeSantis' brand of politics could be the winning formula for Republicans in 2024.
But heaven forbid that Scarborough should say too many positive things about a potential 2024 Republican presidential contender. And thus Joe was obliged to balance his praise for the DeSantis brand by taking some serious shots at the Florida governor.
Scarborough alleged that DeSantis is "all hat, no cattle," i.e. someone who talks big but doesn't carry through on his positions. Joe also downplayed the significance of DeSantis' overwhelming victory, claiming that "He was running against nobody. He was playing against the Washington Generals [Harlem Globetrotters reference]. The Democratic party in the state of Florida is dead."
That's an interesting new hot take when Scarborough was tossing softballs at Charlie Crist just days before the election, saying they were both more conservative than DeSantis on this fighting-with-Disney thing.
In August, Morning Joe allowed Crist to claim he was massively more popular than DeSantis when he was Governor of Florida, that "it's an amazing thing. It's a God thing."
Scarborough also expressed skepticism that the DeSantis brand can work outside of Florida, passing along sniping from unnamed sources in Tallahassee claiming that "one-on-one, he's not that good of a politician." That's the spin Mark Leibovich offered on Morning Joe.
So try and follow along: when DeSantis wins by 19.4 points, you say he's not a good politician, one on one?
Note: Scarborough was loath to give Republicans any credit for potentially turning from Trump to DeSantis. He said they were not doing so out of any moral awakening about Trump's "crimes," but only because they've come to the conclusion that Trump can't beat Biden.
Unlike the Democrats in 2020, Joe? Did they turn to Biden as their nominee because they were enthralled by his keen intellect and vision for the future? Of course not! The Dems were just horrified at the prospect of Bernie Sanders winning the nomination—and leading them to a McGovern-like landslide loss.
On Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough accusing Ron DeSantis of being "all hat, no cattle," and that "one-on-one, he's not that good of a politician," was sponsored in part by Abbott, maker of Skyrizi, Amazon, Booking.com, and Lincoln.
Here's the transcript.
6:22 am ET
JOE SCARBOROUGH: He's guilty! He's guilty! If you just look at it. Of course, in America, everybody is innocent until proven guilty.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: But no man is above the law.
SCARBOROUGH: No man's above the law . . . I think Republicans are starting to understand that, and that may be, Mika, why you're starting to see so many Republicans break away from Trump. Not because of, you know, they were concerned --
SCARBOROUGH: -- for any moral reason. Please! These are people who were fighting and screaming and scratching and clawing and voting and supporting this guy. And in 2020, two weeks after he was pressuring his attorney general to arrest his political opponent, who was ahead of him in the polls and the family.
So, it doesn't have anything to do with that. Maybe they understand, though, all of these crimes are going to add up to making him unelectable in 2024.
. . .
MIKA: To your point, Joe, new polling shows support for Donald Trump's 2024 presidential bid is trending downward. The USA Today/Suffolk University poll had him at 60% among Republicans in July. The number dipped to 56% in October. And is now at just 47%. While 31% of Republicans want Trump to win, 61% say they prefer another nominee who would continue the policies Trump first pursued. The overwhelming choice is Florida governor Ron DeSantis.
SCARBOROUGH: That's amazing.
MIKA: He leads Trump by double digits: 56% to 33%. DeSantis also outperforms Trump against Joe Biden in hypothetical matchups. DeSantis leads Biden by 4 points, while Trump trails Biden by 7.
SCARBOROUGH: And look at those numbers. Let's keep that up right now, and Jonathan Lemire, at the end of the day, this is the calculation that Republicans are making. Not -- not that, that, that they're shocked and stunned that he is an immoral guy who's committed a lot of crimes. But just, he can't beat Joe Biden.
. . .
Ron Desantis is going to prove at the end that he's all hat, no cattle, and it's all a big, fat, phony gesture.
. . .
It's important to look back at the results of that [midterm] election. If you're a Republican, if you want to win in 2024. Election night was really a tale of two Republican parties. You had Ron DeSantis' Republican party, which ran up record margins in the state of Florida. He just -- it wasn't just Ron DeSantis winning big, but he swept in county commission candidates that had no -- no -- idea that they were going to win. Like, up and down the ballot. It was massive.
But then you get outside of Florida. A nightmare for Senate Republican candidates. A nightmare for Kevin McCarthy, who said last year he was going to win by 60 votes -- 60, they're going to pick up 60 seats. Now McCarthy's even fighting for his political life, because they, they so badly underperformed. So if you're a Republican, it's a pretty simple choice. Isn't it?
MARA GAY: Yeah. It's clear that, that the Trump brand is now toxic
. . .
SCARBOROUGH: There's no doubt DeSantis did a great job politically, in getting all the money, in playing the shock opera, getting people to give him money from across the nation, and also crowding out opponents.
But there's another part of it. He was running against nobody. He was playing against the Washington Generals. The Democratic party in the state of Florida is dead . . . Can it be replicated? I mean, maybe it can. I know the donors absolutely love Ron DeSantis. I suspect, though, he's going to run into some problems in states like Iowa, South Carolina. Smaller states where you have to do some retail politicking. Because people in Tallahassee just say, one-on-one, he's not that good of a politician. We'll see.
MIKA: But they'd rather have him than Trump.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, yeah! No doubt.