Ex-president Donald Trump spent an hour on Friday talking to his former adviser Steve Bannon during which he bashed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and claimed that Republican donors are abandoning the not-yet-declared 2024 presidential candidate and flocking to the Trump campaign.
Trump has been doing long interviews with right-wing talk hosts to promote his new book. Last week Fox’s Mark Levin spent an hour with Trump on the subject, and on Friday it was Trump’s former adviser Bannon, who hosts a daily show on the Real America’s Voice network.
Trump lit into DeSantis, as he does routinely to the governor who is his top rival in the party, and claimed “off the record” that GOP donors are abandoning DeSantis and calling him up.
“DeSanctis is failing badly. Ron DeSanctimonious,” said Trump, referring to polls that continue to show Trump far, far ahead of the entire rest of the GOP field.
He repeated his now familiar routine about having rescued DeSantis from an inglorious end to his career, and then brought up the subject of money.
It was an interesting choice by Trump considering that the news broke this week that DeSantis, who is not even an official candidate, has crushed Trump’s fundraising as well as that of the rest of the presumed and declared candidates. But one big donor did say, to an extreme amount of media attention, that he is putting his DeSantis support on “pause” last week, which Trump appeared to latch onto.
“But the donors are largely leaving him now, you know,” he said.
“I think so,” Bannon agreed.
“In fact, I will tell you off the record. Off the record except for the millions of people that watch your show,” Trump said. “But what’s happening is the donors are calling me right now because the donors follow the polls and when they see a guy getting clobbered–”
He then called DeSantis a “lousy politician,” which in Trump’s 2016 campaign was something he said braggingly about himself.
TRUMP: I hope you people are enjoying this, but.
BANNON: What I want to make sure we don’t keep you too long because you’ve been so gracious. This book is – shows a side of you that I think people forgot. Because this is the Donald Trump that America first met. And now you’re under assault from everywhere.
TRUMP: Total assault.
BANNON: Total assault!
TRUMP: Because we’re winning in the polls. If I wasn’t up 40, 50…
BANNON: The polls today, the polls are 62-16.
TRUMP: Well, DeSanctis is failing badly. Ron DeSanctimonious. I mean, you know, it’s always bad, you endorse somebody. He’s dead, he’s, he’s over, his political career. He’s going to be looking for a job. They’ll be lucky to get a job. Comes to me, begs me for a endorsement. I give it to him. He ends up winning the election, winning the nomination, winning the election by numbers that you wouldn’t believe. I mean, he was so far down, he was gone. And then they shout to him a couple of years later, Will you run against the president? ‘I have no comment.’ Now, no comment means the answer is yes, right?
But today a very interesting thing happened. He said he’s going to form a committee. He’s going to form a–
TRUMP: Exploratory committee to determine, well, that’s a big step because he was never looking at committees. Now he’s looking at committees. It’s amazing what being 40 down does.
BANNON: But this is the, this is the consultants and donors in backing him. And this is the guy who’s going to make 35…
TRUMP: But the donors are largely leaving him now, you know.
BANNON: I think so.
TRUMP: In fact I will tell you off the record. Off the record except for the millions of people that watch your show, because your show is, your show is great. I mean, your show. The war room it is. This guy’s a warrior.
BANNON: It’s it’s our war. It’s our audience.
TRUMP: You know, whether they like him or not, it doesn’t basically make any difference. But he is a warrior. There aren’t too many.
But what’s happening is the donors are calling me right now because the donors follow the polls and when they see a guy getting clobbered — But think of it, he was a lousy politician. Because before he met me, before I gave him the endorsement. He was, he was at three.
BANNON: Two things fundamentally changed yesterday. I think, in New Hampshire. One, you turned the guns onto Joe Biden. Also, the DNC came out and they’re coming out with spots that’re going after your policies. That’s a big tell.
TRUMP: That’s good.
BANNON: Because they know they know all this other nonsense is not going to get any traction.