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What Does Overturning Of Roe Mean For Roberts Court?; Who Stops A "Bad Guy With A Gun"?; Will It Be "The Ronald" Instead Of "The Donald"? Aired 9-10a ET

Aired June 25, 2022 - 09:00   ET




MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: The mullahs of the Supreme Court? I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. That descriptor of our SCOTUS wasn't meant as a compliment. It was one of countless derisive comments that I read online yesterday in the immediate aftermath of the overturning of Roe versus Wade. Turns out the leaked Alito draft, it wasn't a head fake after all.

Depending on how you look at it by either a six to three or five to four decision, the court overturned a nearly 50-year precedent. The response was swift, it was predictable, it was contradictory. Many were celebratory. Others took to the streets and protests, perhaps the clearest cut depiction of our political divide.

Quite a juxtaposition, simultaneous joy, and despair. It'd be hard to bridge the gap, but we must try or about to be tested. Soon we'll learn can our democracy recently strained in the aftermath of our most recent presidential election, withstand the new pressures to come. Can controversial laws be enforced in a country as diverse as ours? Not without reconciliation.

Those who are grieving need to recognize the sincerity of neighbors with deeply held beliefs who have dreamed of seeing this day. And the many who are celebratory would be well served to recognize the heartbreak and devastation of citizens who feel they've had their personal freedom violated. Opinions on both sides probably have little to do with Justice Alito's argument in a 213-page opinion.

I doubt many have actually read it. I'm not being critical. It's a slog, even for lawyers. But it's not the work of mullahs. The Supreme Court is obligated to follow the Constitution and precedent. The court of public opinion is guided by an individual's moral code and sense of what is just, and I get that divide.

For what it's worth, Roe versus Wade never made legal sense to me. The reliance and viability and trimesters isn't explicitly grounded in the Constitution. But the idea that respective rights of a mother and her fetus shift at the point of viability, that always made practical sense. Roe versus Wade may be arguably the worst possible outcome, except for all the alternatives. Let's all catch our breath, express ourselves in a peaceful way. And remember that in this country, our deliberative process does not involve knives or guns. That representation is not dependent upon a bloodline, nor who has the most feared army. We need to continue to settle our scores when the curtain is drawn on a ballot box.

Joining me now is CNN Legal Analyst and Supreme Court Biographer Joan Biskupic, author of, "The Chief: The Life and Turbulent Times of Chief Justice John Roberts." Joan just wrote this piece for, "Conservative justices seized the moment and delivered the opinion they'd long promised."

Joan, in the syllabus, the cheat sheet, the Reader's Digest of the opinion, you see a summation of which justice stood where and here's the line about the Chief Justice. Chief Justice John Roberts filed that opinion concurring in the judgment. Immediately after the release, here were the headlines, it was a six to three decision. And then a slew of other headlines, it was a five to four decision. Some confusion about where he stood in all of this. Please explain.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Of course, of course. The most important part of this ruling, Michael, was the five to four decision to overturn Roe, nothing comes close to that. That's the seismic part because, of course, it rolled back 50 years of women's reproductive rights. The six-three part is when the Chief Justice said -- concurred that the Mississippi ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy could stand. So that's the difference there.

And it's interesting you highlighted that line. It's very rare, Michael, that the chief writes alone and that he can't develop some compromise or be smack in the middle of the conservative supermajority. You know, he's someone who usually is in sync with his brethren and new Justice Amy Coney Barrett to his right but on this know he tried to work a compromise, ended up alone, had no joiners.

SMERCONISH: So what is the needle that he was trying to thread? He wanted to maintain Roe but to get rid of the trimesters, how could that have been practically possible?

BISKUPIC: OK, what he wanted to -- the trimester setup essentially faded with the 1992 Casey decision. What they said is just pure viability which you had refer to, Michael, in your introduction there.


That means that states cannot interfere with a woman's choice to end a pregnancy before the moment of viability, which is roughly at 23 weeks when a fetus can live outside the womb. What Chief Justice John Roberts said was, that's an arbitrary line. He thought that a 15-week ban should still be upheld, that that was deep enough into pregnancy, that most women would already know they were pregnant, and that Mississippi should have been allowed to make that choice.

Well, now everyone will be allowed to make whatever choice they want based on the majority ruling to go all the way. The reason he did not want to reverse Roe right now has many dimensions. And first, I should say that the chief generally has been against abortion rights, and maybe in time would have wanted to go all the way in reverse Roe, but not now not in this case.

This case actually came to the court, Michael, only on the specific question of the validity of the Mississippi ban on 15 weeks. It was not initially appealed to the court as something that would overturn Roe. But once Justice Barrett was seated in October of 2020, Mississippi State officials became more emboldened and said, you know, let's just go for the whole thing. And obviously, so did five justices on this court.

And the chief said, it was not necessary to decide that. And when it's not necessary to decide it, it's necessary not to decide it. And he said that his words were I would take a more measured approach. And so that's where he was at. And I'm sure he had the institutional integrity of the court in mind, because as you referenced in your very smart introduction there, Michael, the idea that this court is built on precedent, this court here, its integrity is tied to the fact that it wants to have a steadiness in the law, and then it will reinforce where it has been before and not change course simply based on the new personnel at the court.

SMERCONISH: Can you be the first to weigh in on today's survey question? Katherine (ph), can we put up on the screen so I can show Joan where I'm headed? Because I want to know -- no, no, no, you'll like this. I want to know from my audience today, whether this is a one off, or just the beginning. And you know what I'm referring to.

You have Justice Alito saying that this logic only extends to abortion. But you've got Clarence Thomas in his concurrence, saying, hey, maybe we need to take a look at other substantive due process issues. What's your thought?

BISKUPIC: OK, Michael. Yes, the reason I smile is because often I find your questions just a touch too difficult. But that's a good one. I like this one. I like this one. I can do it. I can do it.


BISKUPIC: All right. The dissenters said they're not done yet. That indeed, the kind of warning that Justice Thomas threw down and said, look at other privacy rights. Look at -- he even question the 1965 case of Griswold versus Connecticut that had said that states couldn't record regulate contraceptives for any couples, including married couples, in 1965 milestone. And he also questioned same sex marriage from 2015.

So he wrote -- Justice Thomas wrote that concurring opinion alone, but I used to say for years, decades even, they'll never strike down Roe v. Wade. So I'm not going to say --


BISKUPIC: -- never to anything. And one last thing that this sixth justice, super -- conservative supermajority, and even the five justices without the chief, they are really ready to flex muscles. So more to come in.

SMERCONISH: And something else, something else that you remind in that CNN piece. The three Trump appointees, correct me if I'm wrong, are the three youngest or the three youngest of the nine?

BISKUPIC: They're all still in their 50s, Michael. They will be --


BISKUPIC: -- for at least another generation.

SMERCONISH: That is really the big takeaway. Thank you so much. I really appreciate Joan Biskupic being here today, sort of the Chief Justice Roberts whisperer here at CNN.

What are your thoughts? Tweet me at Smerconish, go to my Facebook page. I will read some during the course of the program such as this, what do we have? Roe vs. Wade is not dead. The people have the last words in the coming 2022 ballot. Make no mistake, the GOP just lost the American suburbs for a generation.

You know what's interesting about the observation you make about it, there's so many things I wish to be able to say about it, but I'll focus only on suburbia. Keep an eye on former President Trump. He didn't take a victory lap, did he? After the draft, Alito opinion was released. And maybe you say well, he wanted to know if it was for real.

He's really not taking a victory lap now, and Maggie Haberman has a good piece of The Times today saying that what he says privately and what he says publicly are at odds. And the privately he's worried, as that tweet just evidence that maybe in suburbia, this plays poorly for the GOP. We'll find out.


OK. You already know the survey question because I gave a sneak peek to Joan Biskupic, but here it is. Go to and tell me, is the overturning of Roe vs. Wade a one off, meaning it was just those facts, it was just that case, or is this just the beginning? Is Clarence Thomas going to get his wish? That's really what I'm asking.

Up ahead, gun proponents say the best solution to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. But what's this data say? We now know. Plus, watch out Donald here comes Ronald, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, winning polls and seeming more and more like a Trump alternative without some of the baggage. Will he be the GOP nominee in 2024? We'll start that conversation.

And Arizona State House Speaker Rusty Bowers testified before the select committee this week. He was one of the few Republicans to stand up publicly before January 6th, to President Trump's plan to overturn the election. He and his family were then threatened. Trump called him a rhino. Why does Bowers say that he would still vote for Donald Trump in 2024? I'm about to ask him.



SMERCONISH: So why does Rusty Bowers of all people, still say that he would vote for President Trump, former President Trump if he's the 2024 GOP nominee. Bowers is the speaker of the Arizona State House. He was the star witness on Tuesday at the January 6 committee hearing. He told in painstaking detail how he was browbeaten and cajoled by the Trump administration, by the president, by the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

It was Rusty Bowers, who had the exchange with Giuliani when he was trying Giuliani to manipulate the outcome in Arizona, where Giuliani said, "We have a lot of theories. We don't have a lot of evidence." Back on December 4th 2020, this is a month after the election, a month before January 6. Bowers took the unusual and notable move of releasing a statement criticizing team Trump's efforts.

He said, "As a conservative Republican, I don't like the results of the presidential election. I voted for President Trump and worked hard to re-elect him, but I cannot and will not entertain a suggestion that we violate current law to change the outcome of a certified election. And then Rusty Bowers found himself and his family subjected to ridicule, scorn and threats from people who were upset because he wouldn't do what Donald Trump wanted him to do.

As the Washington Post reported, "Bowers received more than 20,000 e- mails and 10,000 voicemails every day. Armed protesters gathered outside his house and scream that he was a pedophile. This April, Bowers was among those whom the JFK presidential library bestowed a Profile in Courage Award. His fellow awardees were President Zelenskyy, Liz Cheney, Jocelyn Benson, Shaye Moss.

Days before Bowers' appearance before the January 6 committee, the former president attacked him again, in a statement calling him a rhino, playing along with the unselect committee. And claiming that Bowers had credited Trump with his election and, "He told me that the election was rigged and then I won Arizona." Rusty Bowers refuted that and told his story again at the hearing on TV and in front of a worldwide audience.


STATE REP. RUSTY BOWERS (R-AZ): And I said, look, you are asking me to do something that is counter to my oath, when I swore to the Constitution to uphold it. And I also swore to the Constitution and the laws of the state of Arizona. And this is totally foreign as an idea or a theory to me. And I would never do anything of such magnitude without deep consultation with qualified attorneys. And I said, I've got some good attorneys, and I'm going to give you their names. But you're asking me to do something against my oath, and I will not break my oath.


SMERCONISH: Many watched and said, hey, stand up, guy doing the right thing. He also described to the committee the threats that he'd received along with family members. And yet despite all this, Bowers had told the Associated Press this about Donald Trump. "If he is the nominee, if he was up against Biden, I'd vote for him again. Simply because what he did the first time before COVID was so good for the country. In my view, it was great. Pretty stunning stuff.

In the Atlantic, David Graham wrote a piece under this headline. The comment that reveals the depths of the Republican Party's moral collapse. If even Rusty Bowers is willing to back Trump again, the outlook for popular democracy is very bleak.

Joining me now is Rusty Bowers. Mr. Speaker, thanks so much for being here. Help us understand, how can you say, hey, he asked me to do something illegal. And yet I'd still contemplate voting for him again.

BOWERS: I've thought obviously a lot about that, Michael, since earlier -- and it was on a Monday night that I talked to the AP, who's a friend. And the context of the question was, it caused me to kind of revert to what you do, and people ask you who you're going to vote for. And in many ways, that's what's happened.

Stick a mic in my face. Will you vote for Trump again versus Biden? And if you're limiting the choice of those two, just because of the implementation of the policy, I would have to go with the one who had lived -- would implement the policy.

If you're asking me if I want Donald Trump to be president again, the answer is no. I don't. And I want options. And you've mentioned in your -- in the previous feed that I -- a great choice. And I'm hoping that it works out that way because I want somebody who does respect the Constitution and won't intimidate me people as a rule of his psyche.


And I want something different in the man, in the character of the man or the woman, give me one. I'm to have character in that office is critical at this time in our history.

SMERCONISH: OK, so here's what I'm hearing. He's not your choice. But still, if it were Trump v. Biden, you'd feel committed to go with Trump, and not with Biden, which to many, myself included, seems in lieu of how you were treated, like you're elevating personal political positions over the fundamentals of the system.

In other words, without the fundamentals being intact, as you evidenced, we're not even going to have policy considerations and debate. Does that make sense?

BOWERS: I think, Michael, it does make sense. I'm not saying I'm some perfect intellectual paragon of perfection, I'm not. But the principles that I believe in, I'm a conservative, I believe in conserving family in and the institutions that we can learn from not have to live in in the past, but that we can learn from, I believe in the freedom of religion, I believe in its expression. It happened just last night in my capital, when they broke out the tear gas. I believe in -- those things that hold us together. If I'm -- if the choice is some is an entity, a person that have all their faults pushes those policies, then that would be the question. But I don't want him. If you're asking me straight up. I don't believe that his character is what leads, I think that's why he lost is because of the lack of character and GM said,

If you had to do over again, when the Associated Press questioned you before you offered the testimony in front of the January 6 committee, would you vote for Trump or would you vote for Biden? Give me the soundbite?

BOWERS: I'd say that would be a hard -- it's like a selfish's choice. Can I have somebody else, please? Can we have a robust primary? Because I would really like to have somebody else who believes in the virtues and practices the virtues. And I've been on the end of -- but, Michael, by nature, I'm more conciliatory. I want a marriage rather than a divorce.

And so when you just walk cold Turkey, and I'll cut up cut somebody slack. But what happened to my family, I sure don't want to happen again. And I don't anybody --

SMERCONISH: Did you hear from Trump --

BOWERS: to have to go through that.

SMERCONISH: Did you hear from Trump --

BOWERS: No, no.

SMERCONISH: -- after that Associated Press story ran, because I thought maybe that would have brought you back into his good graces. It seems like you're never dead with Donald Trump until you're literally dead.

BOWERS: Well, I don't want to be literally dead. And I didn't hear from him. The first I heard of is was maybe 10 minutes before we went on into the committee where he said what he said about me, and I'll tell you again, if you take a little bit of truth and mix it with a big lie, does that make it true? No, it makes it a lie. And that's what he said. He told a lie. So if you're asking me if I want this guy, no, I don't want it.

SMERCONISH: But I guess --

BOWERS: But I guess the missing is, Mr. Speaker, that if someone were browbeaten and leaned on to do something illegal and believes that they were being asked to do something illegal, you would hear Rusty Bowers say under no circumstances, could I ever vote for Donald Trump?

BOWERS: Oh no, no.

SMERCONISH: And I'm not hearing that. BOWERS: No. You're -- it's not -- this is not a blanket, even partial endorsement of Donald Trump. This is a plea for civility across the country. Let's wake up. Let's get past this era. Let's go in a new direction where we can honestly and civilly be in the public square and discuss our differences, which are huge, which you've just worked through some.

I don't -- I want that particular harsh voice gone, even though he may have a great economy, that we may have freedoms and benefits that we didn't have previously and don't have now. I want somebody who can lead the country from the heart and the soul rather than from some pseudo position of power. And I think that's we have had for if we did that again.

SMERCONISH: Final attempt on my part final attempt on my part, what I what I haven't heard you say is under no circumstances, will I vote for Donald Trump. Do you want to say that or do you not want to lock yourself in?

BOWERS: Do do I want to say that? Do I want to? The answer is yes. That's what I want to say. But when I'm on with my neighbors and friends and their challenges of their lives, many times the President doesn't represent all the people or even most of the people. Sometimes he walks contrary to them.


And I think this man does not have the character to lead the country again. And I have a district that's a tough district and that these kinds of positions aren't helping me. And but OK, so they don't help me. I just don't want that forum, that embodiment of a virtue to be my President.

SMERCONISH: Mr. Speaker, thanks for being here. Appreciate it.

BOWERS: You bet. Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Let's see what you're saying in my social media Smerconish, Twitter and Facebook and YouTube. It baffles me that Rusty Bowers could be so directly victimized by what Donald J Trump did in 2020 and then even consider supporting him again. Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play? David Greenes.

Here's what I think I just heard from the Speaker. What I think I just heard from the Speaker is, I really, really, really, really, really don't want to vote for Donald J. Trump. But I don't hear him ruling it out. And I asked three different times, I think. But it's a fascinating story, because to your point, if there were anybody that you would expect to say, under no circumstances could I had people in my front yard calling me a pedophile, it'd be him, which is why I'm thrilled that he was here.

I want to remind you, go to my website, it's Answer this week's survey question, please register for the daily newsletter while you're there. Here's what I'm asking, is the overturning of Roe vs. Wade a one-offer or is it just the beginning? Up ahead, gun rights activists say the best solution for a bad guy with a gun? You've heard, this is a good guy with a gun. Is that true? New data gives us an answer.

And a new poll found that Ron DeSantis is already in a virtual heat with President Trump in New Hampshire. And he beats Biden. He's the Florida Governor of the GOP's best bet in 2024. Let's start that conversation.



SMERCONISH: Who stops a bad guy with a gun? The NRA and gun right activists will tell you, well, it's a good guy with a gun. A new review of data from two decades of mass shootings reveals how hard they are to stop after they've started.

Texas State University's Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center looked at 433 active shooter attacks in the U.S. from 2000 to 2021. The data they reviewed found that most attacks were already over before law enforcement arrived.

My next guest has spent his career studying acts of mass violence. He says the good guy with a gun notion is wrong. Here to discuss is Adam Lankford. He's a professor of criminology at the University of Alabama, also author of the book, "The Myth of Martyrdom: What Really Drives Suicide Bombers, Rampage Shooters, and Other Self-Destructive Killers."

Dr. Lankford, I'm going to walk through this slide. I'm putting it up on the screen for the audience to see. Four hundred and thirty-three active shooters in two decades, 249 attacks ended before police arrived. In 185 of those, the attacker left the scene or committed suicide. That leaves us with 64 cases, 42 times subdued by a bystander, a fight. In 22 cases, shot by a bystander, 12 of them were citizens. Or a different way to express it, only 12 of 249 that ended before police arrived were a good guy with a gun. Your reaction?

ADAM LANKFORD, PROFESSOR OF CRIMINOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA: Yes. You're absolutely right. In other words, you know, I've heard this statement about the bad guy with a gun, only being stopped by a good guy with a gun. And as you point out we can think of that a couple ways. One is, "How often are these incidents stopped after law enforcement arrives?" But because so many of them are stopped before law enforcement arrives, what's the total number of cases in which an armed civilian is shooting the perpetrator?

And that's really simple math, right? It's 12 divided by the total 433. It means over all less than 3 percent of the time a good guy with a gun is shooting the active shooter or mass shooter.

You know, it's like I just say to people out there, "If you think, you know, I need to carry a gun with me when I go out in public today because I'm going to be protecting myself from an active shooter and stopping one of these things or be a hero, the data clearly show don't make that decision based on emotion or how it feels. Make it on the evidence which says that it's almost impossible it's going to happen."

SMERCONISH So if I were Ted Cruz listening to this, if I were the NRA, I think my response would be, well, if more people were packing heat, that 3 percent would be a heck of a lot higher. Who knows in those 433 cases how many individuals were armed citizens to begin with and to be able to respond?

LANKFORD: Well, I think that's -- so it's a great counterargument. And the point I would make is, well, where are we in the United States right now when we consider things globally? We have more than 200 million more firearms in the United States than in any other country. So it's not like we're some sort of country where we haven't tried the arming citizens thing.

And really if we kind of look at the data -- in fact, one of the things you pointed out there is active shooters and mass shooters are more likely to just be tackled and stopped to end up, you know -- I point out to them, end up with somebody sitting on their head, right, than they actually are to be shot and killed by an armed civilian, right, despite the fact that we have so many firearms in this country.


SMERCONISH: One of the additional problems, I guess, is that when police do arrive on the scene, and if there's a good guy with a gun, sometimes it's hard for them to discern, well, who is the good guy? Because all we see are people with guns.

LANKFORD: Yes. That's a major risk. Again, I think I point out to people who think they need to go carry in public for this reason. Look, you know, if you're the person with a gun at the scene of an active shooting or a mass shooting you're making law enforcement's job more difficult. And as we saw in a case in Colorado last year, there's a chance you could be fatally shot by law enforcement and mistaken for the shooter.

The other risk as we saw in the case where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in that mass shooting in Arizona is that sometimes armed civilians may try to be the hero. And in that particular case, the person who tried to be the hero admitted that he was aiming his gun at the wrong person. His finger was on the trigger. He was just a split second from shooting an innocent person, actually contributing to the tragedy rather than helping with it.

SMERCONISH: And part of the additional issue is just timing. The Dayton, Ohio, 2019 case attacker shoots 26 people, killed 9. It all happened in 32 seconds. It all happened in 32 seconds. So there's just not enough time for, you know, the good guy with a gun.

Anyway, the Hollywood ending seems like it's a rarity. That's what I'm taking away. Thank you, Dr. Lankford. I appreciate your time.

LANKFORD: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Let's check in on your tweets and Facebook comments and social media responses. What do you have? Not in every case but proper gun control will not stop a bad guy with a gun more times than not.

Kind of compounded. It's hard for me to understand that. I remember when I was a member of the NRA, and that was up until Bush 41 got out. And when he got out, I got out. But I remember receiving the magazine that would come every month. And up front there was like the -- what was it called -- there was -- it was armed citizen. And they would have these anecdotes of like a good guy with a gun. That was my favorite part of the magazine, but it just doesn't happen often. That's what the data says. Great anecdotes, great movies, doesn't happen that often.

I want to remind you, make sure you're answering the survey question at Here it is, is the overturning of Roe versus Wade a one-off, meaning as Justice Alito said, hey, we're only talking about abortion, or Clarence Thomas, is it just the beginning? Make sure you go vote, OK?

Still to come, in 2024, will it be the Donald or the Ronald? Florida Governor Ron DeSantis already raised over $100 million for his re- election campaign. That includes funds from many former Trump donors. DeSantis has pointedly not sought Trump's public endorsement. How come? I'll ask a long-time expert on Florida politics in just a second.



SMERCONISH: Will it be the Donald or the Ronald? With 2024 on the horizon and former President Donald Trump not announcing his intentions formally, GOP contenders have been forced to take a wait and see approach to their own candidacies. Nevertheless, there's already a clear front-runner among the wannabes, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

In the last two years his stances on COVID-19, critical race theory, LGBTQ issues and immigration have turned him from obscure former congressman to a national figure. In a recent poll of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire, this is from the UNH Survey Center, DeSantis and Trump are in a statistical dead heat for the 2024 nomination. DeSantis 39 percent, Trump 37 percent, Pence at nine, Nikki Haley at six.

In a head-to-head against Biden, DeSantis does better than Trump. Biden beats Trump 50-43. Whereas, DeSantis beats Biden 47-46. Perhaps most dauntingly for the Donald, DeSantis has a huge lead over Trump among those who digest conservative media. Among Fox News viewers, it's DeSantis 46, Trump 32. Among conservative radio listeners, he's up 50-34.

In a "New Yorker" piece this week called -- author Dexter Filkins writes -- quote -- "While Trump, with his lazy, Barnumesque persona, projects a fundamental lack of seriousness, DeSantis has an intense work ethic, a formidable intelligence, and granular understanding of policy. Articulate and fast his feet, he has been described as Trump with a brain." Piers Morgan, last August, was tweeting that DeSantis had blood on his hands for his cavalier approach to COVID. But now just wrote a column in the "New York Post" advocating that Republicans could -- quote -- dump the Donald and run with the Ronald. Saying, "If you were scripting a perfect Republican presidential candidate, the list of preferred requirements would read something like DeSantis' resume."

But if you're thinking the power ticket might end up being DeSantis as Trump's vice presidential candidate, there could be a legal hurdle. The 12th Amendment states that electors have to vote for president and vice president -- quote -- "one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves." In the past, this has been interpreted to mean that the candidates can't both be from the same state.


Remember when Texans George W. Bush and Dick Cheney became running mates Cheney declared himself a resident of Wyoming to circumvent such a conflict. With DeSantis, a lifelong Floridian, and Trump having settled at Mar-a-Lago, this could be an issue. I don't see DeSantis relocating or Trump making a move to accommodate a rival who turns running mate.

Of course, first, DeSantis has to run for re-election as governor this year. Toward that end he has already raised a whopping $100 million including from many key financiers of Trump's re-election bid.

Gary Fineout writes the "Florida Playbook" for "Politico." He previously worked in the Tallahassee bureau of the "Associated Press." Gary, why is DeSantis not seeking Trump's public endorsement?

GARY FINEOUT, REPORTER, POLITICO/AUTHOR, FLORIDA PLAYBOOK: Because he doesn't need it. I mean, he has clearly established his own brand. He is ahead in the polls. He's in a situation where he has advantages right now heading into his re-election. So the -- an endorsement from Donald Trump really isn't something that he really needs to win another term in office.

SMERCONISH: So let's remind people what a sea change that is from four years ago. Here is a snippet of that commercial. I know you'll remember it.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Then Mr. Trump said, you're fired. I love that part.

CASEY DESANTIS, WIFE OF RON DESANTIS: He's teaching Madison to talk.

GOV. RON DESANTIS: Make America great again.

CASEY DESANTIS: People say --


SMERCONISH: I mean, he's reading from "The Art of the Deal" to an infant. What has changed along the way?

FINEOUT: Well, I mean, if we want to roll back the tape, of course, the situation is he was heading into a competitive Republican primary back in 2018. He was running against the establishment candidate, Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam, and basically Trump's endorsement sort of flipped the switch on that race overnight.

DeSantis went from someone who was behind Putnam in the polls, had less money. The Trump endorsement was very instrumental in helping him overcome Putnam and he won decisively over him.

Now, we come to now and over the last two years as the things that you mentioned, his handling of the COVID pandemic, of course has gotten some criticism -- a lot of criticism from Democrats and other people, but regardless, his handling of COVID and his emphasis on other issues has turned him into a conservative rock star. He has gone across the country. He has raised money across the country. He has appeared across the country.

And he has gotten -- he's getting a lot of attention on Fox News and other conservative outlets. And so basically he is -- he is a rising star. And because of all that, he doesn't have to go to Trump in order to cement that.

And, you know, the situation is he's -- you know, there is a lot of talk what he wants to do is he wants to win a second term in office but he wants to do it decisively. And there's some, you know, buzz that he wants to get a margin that beats that of what Trump had in this state back in 2020.

SMERCONISH: Is he Trump without the bombast? You hear from Republicans, in fact, I had the Arizona State House speaker on this program, Rusty Bowers, you know, people like him they are looking for an alternative to Trump but they want the Trump policies. Is that DeSantis' bid?

FINEOUT: Well, I think clearly Governor DeSantis has embraced a lot of the same ideas. And he also has another trait that he shares with the former president and that's a never surrender, do not retreat kind of mode.

A lot of times he does things and he stands his ground. Sometimes he's gets drawn into things and once he becomes the face of something he also doesn't -- seen any -- seen (ph) any (ph) ground (ph). A perfect example was the issue of the -- the bill that was passed by the legislature on LGBTQ issues the -- what has been called by critiques as the "don't say gay" bill but in essence that legislation originated in the Florida House. And it was starting to percolate up, but he basically -- he sort of got criticized over it and then he kind of took ownership of it.

And then, of course, that led to the showdown with Disney. And then out of the blue, of course, they come up with legislation and they get it through the legislature in less than a week to take away the special status of Disney. So, what he has shown is -- I think is a willingness to be combative and to not back down which I think is definitely a trait each shares.

SMERCONISH: They both relish a fight, which is why I was so eager to discuss this with you because if they set their sights on one another, look out. Gary, thank you so much.

FINEOUT: Thank you for having me on.

SMERCONISH: More social media refraction. From the world of Twitter, I believe. What do we have?

Why are you so scared of Trump? America was so better off when he ran things.

Is that directed at me, David?


Why am I so scared of -- I'm not scared of Trump. I'm trying to present to you a likely matchup that is going to mature in the next couple of months probably if Trump should decide that he's going to run and if DeSantis decides he's willing to take the task at hand. And what I find really interesting is that Gary Fineout has some really great insights from Florida, from the Sunshine State.

But also keep your eye on that 12th Amendment thing. Because if they can put their differences aside and people say, well, that's the natural ticket, right? No. No. Somebody has got to move. I cannot see DeSantis, born and raised in Dunedin, you know, FSU guy, I can't see that he ever leaves the state. Nor can I see Trump because Trump -- he's not going back to New York and he would perceive that as a sign of weakness. So Republicans who like them both, you're not getting them both.

Still to come, more of your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments, and the final result of the survey question. If you have not yet voted, go do it now at Is the overturning of Roe versus Wade a one-off or just the beginning?



SMERCONISH: There it is. There's the result of this week's survey question. Ninety-four percent of nearly 30,000, I'm told we're at 30,000 now, say this is just the beginning. Clarence Thomas is right.

Social media, real quick, because I'm so limited on time. What do we have? Here we go. Come on, let's go. Come on, come on, come on.

Disgusted by the opening of your show this morning. Really? You're disgusting because I said, now is the time for reconciliation?

Go to the next one, Catherine. What comes after that? Hurry, hurry, hurry.

Easy for you to say just remain calm and see the other side when you do not have ovaries -- OK.

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish I had more time. A word now for my Twitter followers, when you don't see me for the next two weeks it will not be because I was fired for having Kellyanne Conway as a recent guest or because I refused to vilify the Supreme Court after Roe. Instead, I'm going on family vacation. See you.