The Florida Book War of 2023: Trump, DeSantis battle it out for literary supremacy
The news that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new book has easily outpaced the first-week sales of a similar pre-presidential-run literary effort by former President Donald Trump is creating some agita in Mar-a-Lago.
The uneasy pre-war period between DeSantis and Trump seems prone to ignite over their vanity book projects. This is especially more likely after news outlets reported that DeSantis’ The Courage to Be Free sold 94,300 copies in its first week, which was far more than the 27,500 first-week copies sold of Trump’s Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America in 2016.
Trump took to Truth Social over the weekend to call DeSantis' book sales “fake news.”
“Ron has groups buying his book in order to inflate sales and, in fact, on the first day, his book was already 30 percent discounted,” Trump wrote.
Even more disturbing, he referred to Florida’s governor as “Ron DeSanctimonious” again — which is not Trump’s best work.
Discerning name-callers, such as myself, liked it better when Trump called DeSantis “Meatball Ron.”
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Donald Trump ramping up for war with Gov. Ron DeSantis
And we worry that Trump may just be getting lazy, filling his days at Mar-a-Lago with golf, posing for thumbs-up photos with club members, and cold-calling criminal defense lawyers interested in pro bono representation.
He needs to be fully stocked with new nicknames for DeSantis for the strife that’s soon to intensify.
When it comes to book sales, Trump knows a thing or two about goosing the numbers. Three years ago, the Republican National Committee spent more than $300,000 buying up copies of Don Jr.’s self-published book “Liberal Privilege” — an expensive paperweight described as a “donor memento.”
Donald Trump went on to use DeSantis’ book news to promote his own upcoming book, “Letters to Trump,” which promises to have photos and letters from famous people to Trump.
“You’ll love it!” Trump wrote.
But a number of the people included in the book already seem understandably embarrassed.
Jay Leno has made it clear that Trump doesn’t have permission to use what the comedian thought was a private letter. And here’s what Hillary Clinton’s camp had to say about a letter from her being included in Trump’s upcoming book:
"Nothing says deeply-insecure-has-been quite like publishing private correspondence with the hope that people will believe you once garnered respect," Clinton's spokesperson Nick Merrill told Newsweek. "Feels like the adult equivalent of when a toddler proudly presents you with what they've done on the potty."
I don’t plan on reading either book.
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Living here in Florida already serves as a nasally, whining audio-book version of DeSantis. And it’s pretty clear to anybody who is paying attention in Florida that DeSantis’s idea of freedom looks way too much like fascism.
And as for Trump, I’m holding out for the sequel, “Subpoenas to Trump.”
Trump’s new book doesn’t come out until April 25 so we’re still in the preliminary stages of literary combat. But things are bound to get worse.
When DeSantis held a book signing event earlier this month at a Books-A-Million store in Leesburg, a group of Trump supporters waving Trump flags and wearing Trump shirts showed up in the parking lot.
“Please, Ron, Wait till ‘28,” one of their signs said. “Trump 2024.”
They were promptly shooed away by police and told they were trespassing at the book signing.
“They told me anybody wearing Trump has to go right now,” a police officer told the Trump supporters, who booed and complained, “Free speech!”
Literary turf battle emerges as Trump's new book of letters due out soon
I guess this means that the “courage to be free” in Florida should not be confused with the freedom to show support for Trump at a DeSantis event.
This book war is bound to reach its point of no return when Trump’s uninspired new literary effort is finally published and it inevitably falls short of DeSantis’ sales figures.
So, I’d suggest that if you’re a Floridian who has no interest in the literary offerings of Trump or DeSantis, you should lay low and take steps to protect yourself and your family.
Let this political gang war play out. Avoid public places that seem to be populated by lots of unvaccinated homeschool moms, people in red hats and pickup trucks with ISIS-sized flags in the back.
If you hear the word “woke,” your mental health is in danger. Get out of there as quickly as possible.
Eventually, it will sort itself out. DeSantis and Trump will have their full-out war. New derogatory nicknames will be hurled, tales of betrayal will be told and wild accusations will fly. And in the end, the king of fools will be determined.
And if there’s any good news in any of this, it’s that they both can’t win.
Frank Cerabino is a columnist at The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.