Donald Trump’s escalating spat with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is becoming more public. The former president and his former apprentice have lately taken public jabs at one other about many topics and concerns, comments that might foreshadow a clash between the two Republicans over their 2024 plans.
Trump seemed to be aiming directly at DeSantis when he called politicians who refuse to reveal whether or not they had gotten a coronavirus booster injection gutless.
DeSantis has previously evaded the subject, though in later communications DeSantis fired back, stating that one of his greatest regrets was not speaking out much louder against Trump’s epidemic reaction.
While DeSantis and Trump’s relationship has apparently been tense for some time, their conflict has primarily played out in secret. With the midterm elections approaching and the 2024 field forming, DeSantis, who is up for reelection this year, seems to be defining himself as someone willing to take on the man who helped build him.
The fact that he is doing so over COVID-19 limits demonstrates “how far Republicans have gone to the right on coronavirus politics,” and puts Trump uncharacteristically out of sync with the hard-line elements of his party’s base.
DeSantis’ COVID answer, in many respects, fits Trump’s anti-science playbook, which, even with his tepid support of vaccinations, may no longer be severe enough for his own movement.
“DeSantis may or may not actually be more delusional on COVID than Donald Trump,” New York’s Jonathan Chait wrote. “But it is a revealing commentary on the state of their party that he sees his best chance to supplant Trump as positioning himself as even crazier.”
DeSantis has not said if he intends to run for president in 2024, but he is widely seen as a possible candidate, and, unlike other Trump supporters, he has not stated that he would not run if Trump does.
“The magic words,” as Trump is said to have told cronies and advisors.
The previous president has been questioned for his lack of reverence. “I wonder why the guy won’t say he won’t run against me,” Trump has said to several associates and advisers, according to the Times. But DeSantis has told friends that he thinks Trump’s “expectation that he bend the knee is asking too much.”
DeSantis has dismissed rumors that he would run for president in 2024 as “nonsense,” amid reports that Donald Trump has stepped up efforts to reclaim the White House.
“All the speculation about me is purely manufactured,” DeSantis said at a press conference to discuss a new COVID-19 treatment unit in St. Cloud, Florida.
“I just do my job. You know, we work hard. Obviously, our state has led on a lot of things including this and now other states are copying us. But that’s what it’s really all about, just helping folks here.”
He added: “I hear all this stuff and honestly it’s nonsense. So, you know, I really don’t know what to say to those rumors.”
DeSantis, who has yet to file his application to run for re-election as governor with the Florida Division of Elections, has been mentioned as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2024.
The governor previously attended the fifth annual Nebraska Steak Fry, an event to ‘celebrate’ agriculture hosted by Gov. Pete Ricketts at Arbor Lodge Historical Park in Nebraska City.
According to media reports, the event was headlined by ‘other potential 2024 candidates,’ including former Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Ted Cruz, who previously ran unsuccessfully for president.
Meanwhile, DeSantis appears to be fueling such speculation by visiting states across the country to raise funds for his political committee – while avoiding early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire, which could stymie election plans.
Since Trump endorsed his 2018 campaign for governor ahead of the Republican primary, he has frequently tied himself to Trump, attending events and fundraisers at his Mar-a-Lago club.
According to Politico, Trump appeared to suggest in April that if he were to run for a second term, he would consider DeSantis as his vice president. He has yet to say whether he will run again after losing the 2020 election to President Joe Biden.
However, his advisers are hyping his growing interest in a run for the White House, which comes as Biden’s approval ratings are plummeting as a result of the controversial pullout from Afghanistan and an increase in coronavirus cases.
In comments to Cheddar last week, former campaign spokesman Jason Miller called a Trump re-run a near certainty.
“I would say somewhere between 99 and 100 percent. I think he is definitely running in 2024,” Miller said.
“I had a good conversation with him last night. I’m going to go see him in another couple days here.”
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, a staunch Trump supporter, has stated that Trump is not in a rush to make an announcement because “the base is rightly loyal to him.” And a good rule of thumb in politics is to run for office for as little time as possible.’
Rep. Jim Jordan, who spoke with Trump on the day of the deadly Capitol riot on January 6, was caught on video last week saying, ‘I know so,’ when asked if Trump would run again.
“I talked to him yesterday. He’s about ready to announce after all of this craziness in Afghanistan,” Jordan said.
DeSantis intends to make more appearances in his home state this fall, despite a recent poll showing his approval rating plummeting.