Mark Halperin, who, admittedly, has been consistently very bearish on DeSantis's presidential viability, didn't have much good to say about the Florida governor's big speech over the weekend at the Reagan Library:
"If DeSantis can’t get it up politically for a speech at that august venue, it isn’t clear what he is waiting for. No matter where else he speaks in 2023 (the Detroit Economic Club, American Enterprise Institute, St. Anselm College, the Iowa State Fair), there will arguably be no location more symbolically resonant than the Simi Valley citadel where DeSantis spoke this weekend.
It might have been an even more important moment than his expected formal announcement speech.
As readers of this newsletter know, in the upper reaches of the Republican Party, even among some sharpies who desperately want DeSantis to be the nominee, there is a view that the man on a three-year rocket ride is personally odd/diffident, uncomfortable with retail politics, not a great speaker, and without humor, nuance, or genuine emotion when it comes to giving speeches, doing interviews, or talking to voters (or donors).
You can watch the full speech here, starting at about the 8-minute mark.
Overall, if you watch the whole thing, look for moments of writing or delivery that seem elevated beyond what one might throw off at a routine Kissimmee photo op; for anything surprising or delightful; for anything that makes you stop short and say, That man has a true sweeping vision for what this nation needs!
You will notice that from start to finish, DeSantis acts like, since all of his audience knows him from Fox News, that he doesn’t have to introduce his bio or explain how his bio informs his vision for the nation and policy. Like, he doesn’t do that thing that people running for president for the first time generally do.
For those of you who don’t have time to watch the whole cliché-filled and Fox-News-greatest-hits speech, here are the three moments I recommend to you:
A. 8:50 to 9:45: Note the comedy styling of Ron DeSantis as he blandly tells a joke older than Joe Biden and Donald Trump combined.
B. 52:25 to 53:32: See how you rate DeSantis’ capacity to end his remarks on a stirring and uplifting note.
C. 53:40 to the VERY end: Watch how DeSantis exits and listen to what the announcer says.
*** Can DeSantis win the nomination if his national stage performance level is on par with what he produced on Sunday?
But there are reasons to doubt that."