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Ron DeSantis and the Big-Lie Boys: Trump’s Heirs Count Down to ’24

President Donald Trump greets Ron DeSantis during a campaign rally in 2018.
Photo by Joe Raedle via Getty Images
Tina Nguyen
August 26, 2021

Somewhere in my recent travels, at a desert campground in rural California, I met a couple who was training for an off-road, cross-country race. I was six days removed from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where I had taken in the MyPillow C.E.O. and Donald Trump obsessive Mike Lindell’s Beckettsian “election fraud” symposium, replete with cameos from Steve Bannon, a zoom appearance from Alan Dershowitz, and exceedingly little plausible proof that Trump lost the 2020 election for any reason other than that more people voted for Joe Biden. As I made small talk with my new campmates, the question of American democracy was fresh in my mind. Inevitably, we started talking about my job, and inevitably, their long-buried feelings about Trump emerged.

During the conversation, the husband brought up an incident that I’d nearly forgotten after five years: the last time, he argued, that a Republican attempted to stop Trump from becoming leader of the G.O.P. It was July 2016, and Trump had just handily dispatched his final intra-party rival, Senator Ted Cruz, in the primaries.