Donald Trump, the leading Republican presidential candidate, has called upon fellow candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to step aside “for the good of the party.”
“I think he has to get out for the good of the party,” Trump said. “He could have waited and he would have been odds-on favorite for ’28 but he didn’t do that. I got him elected. If it weren’t for me he wouldn’t be governor, he’d be working in a law office right now or doing whatever he was going to do.”
In 2016, Trump backed DeSantis’ bid for Florida governor. The AP wrote at the time, “DeSantis, 40, was considered an underdog before Trump tweeted his support for DeSantis in December, a month before he got into the race. Trump campaigned to help push DeSantis to a primary victory in August and came to Florida two more times to propel him past Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the final days of the election.”
“He was dead,” Trump claimed of DeSantis’ campaign, adding, “when I endorsed him, he came begging for an endorsement, when I endorsed him he had a couple of like a rocket ship. One day! One day!”
In a rally held in March, Trump made similar remarks.
“I’m a loyalist. And when a man comes to me (with) tears in his eyes, He’s at almost nothing in the polls, and he’s fighting somebody that’s at 42, and he’s got almost $30 million in the bank. He’s at almost nothing. He’s got no cash. And I said, ‘I can’t give you an endorsement. There’s no way you can win. You’re dead.’”
According to Trump’s version of the story, he graciously granted DeSantis the endorsement, because he fought for him “just a little bit on the impeachment hoax.”
In a recent interview with Megyn Kelly, DeSantis appeared to contradict Trump’s repeated claims since last autumn that DeSantis sought his endorsement in the gubernatorial race against Adam Putnam and Andrew Gillum.
“Do you believe that? You tell me,” DeSantis said to Kelly. “I mean, come on, this was, you know, in public. I think we were on Air Force One, and I said, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about running. Will you support me? Will you tweet for me?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, I’ll tweet for you.’ And that was it.”
DeSantis on Friday said that the only reason that Trump is pushing back against him so hard is because he is a legitimate threat in the primaries.
“He doesn’t say that about his own Vice President running against him. He doesn’t say that about his ambassador to the U.N. running against him. He doesn’t say that about other people he endorsed in the past who are now running against him. He only says that about me because I think he construes me as the only threat to his winning the nomination,” he told Kelly.
In the same interview, DeSantis said he would pardon Donald Trump.
Ron DeSantis suggests he’d pardon Trump if he gets elected president:
“I don’t think it would be good for the country to have an almost 80-year-old former president go to prison.”
— Republicans against Trump (@RpsAgainstTrump) July 28, 2023
Trump in his most recent remarks explained why he hit the DeSantis campaign “hard.”
“And then three years later,” Trump continued, “they ask him a question, ‘are you gonna run against the president,’ and he said ‘I have no comment.’ And I said ‘wait a minute, did he say he has no comment? That means he’s running.’” Trump laughed. “So, we hit him hard. But the fact is he’s a lousy campaigner,” Trump said.
Trump was also asked if he would engage in a debate hosted by the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee in August. Trump said there is essentially no reason for him to do so since he has such a commanding lead.
Trump says he is still thinking about debating in Milwaukee pic.twitter.com/GFMFEBnnLc
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) July 28, 2023
“Why would I do it? Why would I put myself sort of at the mercy of a hostile network with very hostile people? It doesn’t make sense.”
The former president added that he hasn’t “made a final decision.”