Resurgent Donald Trump has rattled close aides of Ron DeSantis who think he faces tougher challenge
Donald Trump has rattled close aides of Ron DeSantis who think the Florida governor will have to campaign far harder to win the GOP nomination, reports say.
Recent polls have shown Trump holding on to a commanding lead, with a Morning Consult survey showing the ex-president leading DeSantis by 28 points, 54-26.
It is the biggest lead Trump has seen since announcing his third run at the White House, though recent polls from Quinnipiac and Yahoo/YouGov showed him leading DeSantis from 14-15 points.
Sarah Longwell, a Republican strategist who is anti-Trump, attributes the shift to Trump’s supporters returning to him, as well as his barrage of attacks on DeSantis.
Advisors to DeSantis, according to the Washington Post, have said the governor’s candidacy – which many believed would begin in May – has gone from a ‘coronation’ to a lengthy, 50-state fight for delegates.
Those close to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (pictured right) worry he may face a stiffer challenge from former ally Donald Trump (pictured left) as it looks like he won’t give up his mantle as GOP presidential nominee without a fight
Recent polls have shown former President Trump increasing his lead on Governor DeSantis
DeSantis’ confidants said they still think he can catch up, with ex-GOP Rep Lou Barletta saying he’ll get a bump in the polls once he formally enters the race.
‘People in many states are just getting to know him, and campaigns are long,’ Barletta said.
A source close to DeSantis said he has ‘steel for a spine’ and won’t bend the knee to Trump’s attacks, which they called ‘silly smear tactics.
But at least one person familiar with discussions around DeSantis’ campaign said they believe Trump is ‘trying to kill him in the crib’ and suggested the DeSantis team doesn’t have a plan to hit back.
They spoke about the governor’s wife Casey DeSantis, who one source said is ‘not a down-in-the-dirt person.’
Some of DeSantis’ critics in Florida have come up with a damning nickname for him: ‘JebSantis.’
The remark refers to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who was regularly a source of Trump’s ridicule during the 2016 campaign. Bush has already endorsed DeSantis.
‘DeSantis is quickly finding out that consolidating the anti-Trump vote in a GOP primary is like straddling a multilane highway,’ Caroline Wren, a pro-Trump fundraiser, said.
‘Every position he takes moving forward will be viewed as a break from Trump, or following Trump, and will end up alienating certain factions of the party.’
At least one person familiar with discussions around DeSantis’ campaign said they believe Trump is ‘trying to kill him in the crib’ and suggested the DeSantis team doesn’t have a plan to hit back.
Some of DeSantis’ critics in Florida have come up with a damning nickname for him: ‘JebSantis.’ The remark refers to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (pictured upper middle), who was regularly a source of Trump’s ridicule during the 2016 campaign. Bush has already endorsed DeSantis
Sources spoke about the governor’s wife Casey DeSantis (pictured left), who one said is ‘not a down-in-the-dirt person’ when it comes to responding to Trump
DeSantis has not yet formally launched a 2024 run for presidency but is widely expected to do so at the end of Florida’s legislative session.
Mike Pence, who also has not formally launched a run, came in third at seven percent, followed by former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley at four percent.
Former Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., received three percent of support from those surveyed, though she is also not in the race.
But DeSantis fared slightly better against Biden than did Trump.
Asked about a hypothetical matchup between Biden and DeSantis, respondents favored the current president 43 to 41 percent.
Former President Trump has now taken a 28-point lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to new polling
DeSantis has not yet formally launched a 2024 run for presidency but is widely expected to do so at the end of Florida’s legislative session
In a hypothetical match up between Biden and Trump, Biden is ahead 44 to 41 percent.
The survey was conducted March 17 to March 19, just as news broke that Trump is expecting to be indicted by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Some 3,400 potential Republican primary voters responded and the poll has a margin of error of two percentage points.
Trump world has consistently lobbed attacks at DeSantis after he his reticence to come to the former president’s defense after news of his looming indictment.
DeSantis on Monday, after a two-day delay, attacked the investigation of GOP rival Trump. The Manhattan DA has been investigating the $130,000 ‘hush’ payment to Stormy Daniels. Trump reimbursed former fixer Michael Cohen for the payments.
DeSantis said he didn’t know ‘what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair’, then accused Bragg of ignoring rising crime in New York.
At the same time, he parroted some of Trump’s attacks, calling Bragg a ‘Soros-funded prosecutor’ – a reference to a $1 million donation that the billionaire gave to a Color of Change during Bragg’s 2021 election.
‘What I can speak to, is that if you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction, and he chooses to go back many, many years ago, to try to use something about porn star hush money payments,’ DeSantis said, bringing up the substance of the case a second time.
‘You know, that’s an example of pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office,’ he added.
Trump picked up on the dig at his hush money payment and raged on Truth Social: ‘Ron DeSanctimonious will probably find out about FALSE ACCUSATIONS & FAKE STORIES sometime in the future, as he gets older, wiser and better known when he’s unfairly and illegally attacked by a woman, even classmates that are ‘underage’ (or possibly a man!). I’m sure he will want to fight these misfits just like I do!’
DeSantis finally laid out the differences between himself and Trump in an interview with Piers Morgan published Tuesday.
‘Well I think there’s a few things. The approach to COVID was different. I would have fired somebody like Fauci. I think he got way too big for his britches, and I think he did a lot of damage.’
‘I also think just in terms of my approach to leadership, I get personnel in the Government who have the agenda of the people and share our agenda. You bring your own agenda in you’re gone. We’re just not gonna have that. So, the way we run the Government I think is no daily drama, focus on the big picture and put points on the board and I think that’s something that’s very important.’