An argument I often hear these days as to why Donald Trump could not be beaten in the Republican primary, is that Ron DeSantis is not ready for prime time. While I agree that the Florida governor does not come across as ready for prime time, I would like to remind everybody that it is not prime time yet. Right now, only political insiders pay attention to the primary race.
A key benefit of a competitive primary campaign is that it makes the ultimate winner ready for prime time. Bill Clinton was not ready for prime time in 1991. As he had to defend himself against various allegations, which almost tanked his candidacy, he became a stronger candidate. George Bush was not ready for prime time in 1999. An unexpectedly tough challenge from John McCain forced him to crystallize his message. Instead of just running as the inevitable candidate, he became the reformer with results and compassionate conservative. Even Ronald Reagan was not ready for prime time as he launched his challenge against incumbent President Gerald Ford. He lost New Hampshire and it took him quite some time to get his act together and launch a forceful stand, which paved the way for an ultimately successful bid for the White House.