DeSantis’s ’24 Policy Gamble

DeSantis’s promise to ensure that no “blank checks” will be written to Ukraine placates the MAGA voter, and reassures the norms-based international order and moderate Republicans hoping for a less volatile president.
DeSantis’s promise to ensure that no “blank checks” will be written to Ukraine placates the MAGA voter, and reassures the norms-based international order and moderate Republicans hoping for a less volatile president. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Tina Nguyen
March 15, 2023

As the answers rolled in Monday for Tucker Carlson’s questionnaire on Ukraine, sent to all the declared and presumptive Republican candidates for the presidency, Ron DeSantis’s answer stood out for a few reasons. First, of course, he had finally staked out a position on an issue that he had been largely dodging for a year. Second, and more notably, he essentially bucked the Republican establishment by taking a position most similar to his MAGA-aligned, more isolationist rival, Donald Trump

Defending Ukraine, DeSantis said, does not represent a vital national security interest to the United States. He dismissively referred to Russia’s invasion as a “territorial dispute.” And he declared that any policy in favor of “regime change” in Russia created an incalculable geopolitical, and possibly existential risk. Discussing the war, he continued, served as a distraction from “our country’s most pressing challenges”—the border, China, energy independence, etcetera. Carlson was so pleased that he read the full statement on air.