GOP Primary Balloon: Scarborough Pumps Up Sununu, Tries To Pop DeSantis

February 15th, 2023 9:33 PM

For years now, Donald Trump has been the man Joe Scarborough most loves to hate. But there's another Republican who has emerged as a close second among people Scarborough despises: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. NewsBusters has noted Scarborough's disdain for DeSantis a number of times (here and here). Scarborough was back at his diss-DeSantis shtick on Wednesday's Morning Joe.

Handicapping the GOP primary field, Scarborough predicted that DeSantis' campaign "is going to end very badly . . . It's going to start as high as a Chinese balloon over Montana, and by the time it gets to South Carolina, they're going to be looking for wreckage." 

In contrast, Scarborough pumped up the prospects of Chris Sununu. He depicted the New Hampshire Governor as someone who "doesn't put up with a lot of you know what," is very popular in his home state [where the first primary is held after the Iowa caucuses], and can "punch back" with Trump on a debate stage.

So, what explains Scarborough's raging animosity toward DeSantis? It might be the standard liberal-media goal of tearing down a possible Republican frontrunner for one they prefer for Democrats to run against a la 2016. But sprinkle in a jot of jealousy perhaps on Scarborough's part.

Scarborough reportedly toyed with the idea of running for president himself in 2020. And now he sees his fellow Floridian DeSantis with a realistic shot at the White House. Joe, looking in the mirror, telling himself, "I coulda been a contender?"

In theory, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley should have been the topic of the day, given that she put out her announcement video on Tuesday. Wednesday's CNN This Morning gave her a lot of play. But Morning Joe gave Haley relatively short shrift, with limited discussion and Scarborough putting her over/under odds of winning the nomination at a paltry 2.5 percent.

Katty Kay, the BBCer who doubles as a Morning Joe regular, was a reliable liberal. But she has normally been loathe to express strong opinions. Not this time. She lit into DeSantis as strongly as did Scarborough, envisioning his campaign "crash[ing] in the water," and predicting that he would be incapable of standing up to Trump, who will "walk all over him."

Joe Scarborough trashing Ron DeSantis and pumping up the GOP primary prospects of Chris Sununu was sponsored in part by Sleep Number, GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Shingrix, and Priceline.

Here's the transcript.

MSNBC's Morning Joe
6:23 am ET

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Well, Willie, you know that Caesars calls you and me when they want to set the lines --

WILLIE GEIST: [chuckles] Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: -- for these political elections. And you will remember, weeks out, we put the over/under for Macron at 58.5%. 

GEIST: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: And it was 58.5%. I am now ready to do the over and under for every candidate we just mentioned --

GEIST: Hold on. I'll write it down.

SCARBOROUGH: Every candidate we just mentioned. Nikki Haley, the over/under, 2.5%. John Bolton, 0.5%. Mike Pompeo, 1.25%. Mike Pence, 5%, over/under. Tim Scott, 4.5%. Who else do we have there?

GEIST: You've got Larry Hogan, Brian Kemp, Chris Sununu.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, you know? I got to say -- well, I mean, Kemp, zero. And Larry Hogan, God bless him, love what he's done. God bless him, though, in this primary. John Bolton 1.5%. I'm sorry. That's pretty much it. 

But, you know, Sununu is an interesting one. And I'm not willing to keep him in low single digits. Maybe put him at 7.5%. But he's an interesting one. I still, I still think -- and, and, and Gene, I still think this is Donald Trump's field. 


SCARBOROUGH: I think everybody you put up on stage, maybe with the exception -- and I'll say this, of Chris Sununu, who sitting at 70-plus percent up in New Hampshire, and doesn't really put up with a lot of you know what. I think he can kind of punch him back.

ROBINSON: He, maybe he can. You know, we've got to see how some of these candidates will perform on a national stage and how they play in the rest of the country. Including Ron DeSantis, by the way. We'll have to -- I know he does well in the polls, now. But when he gets out there, he will be, I think, the most humorless, bombastic major candidate for president in a long time.

SCARBOROUGH: I think that's going to end very badly. I think that's one of these things, he's cloistered, Katty, in Tallahassee. Get him outside of Tallahassee, it's not going to go well.

KATTY KAY: Where did you put DeSantis? What was the over/under on Desantis?

SCARBOROUGH: I didn't put an over/under on him. I think it's going to start, I think it's going to start as high as a Chinese balloon over Montana, and --

KAY: -- and end about --

SCARBOROUGH: And by the time it gets to South Carolina -- 

KAY: --it's crashed in the water.

SCARBOROUGH: It's gonna--yeah. They're going to be looking for wreckage.

KAY: I speak to a pretty confident, when they get, Desantis won't be able to withstand the Trump juggernaut of attacks when it happens. He's too thin-skinned, he's too defensive --


KAY: -- too awkward on a debate stage, and Trump will walk all over him.