Donald Trump is stepping up his barrage against Gov. Ron DeSantis, declaring that the Florida governor is “very unlikely” to become his 2024 running mate — while insisting, “I am not looking to attack Republicans.”
“No, I think that would be a very unlikely alliance,” the former president said in a Friday interview with Newsmax.
“I’ve never thought of it,” Trump said about teaming up with his probable GOP primary rival.
“We have a lot of great people in the Republican Party,” he continued, without naming any potential ticket mates.
Trump went on to repeat some of his favorite attacks on the Florida governor — who he has dubbed “Ron DeSanctimonious” as well as, allegedly, “Meatball Ron.”
“I appointed him,” Trump said, recalling DeSantis’ first run for governor in 2018.
“He was failing badly in the polls. He was out of politics. He was going to be out of politics, and I endorsed him. And he went from a very small number to a very high number.”
DeSantis — whose popularity among Republicans soared when he was re-elected in November by 19 points, the largest margin of any Florida governor in decades — “can’t win” a national election, Trump asserted.
“If you look at his record, he can’t win,” Trump said, claiming that DeSantis, while a US congressman, “voted against Social Security … he voted against Medicare.”
“He’s bad on education,” Trump said.
“Bad on COVID. Bad on many different things that people don’t know about.”
Trump’s campaign put the word out Friday that DeSantis staffers — including all those who worked on the governor’s recent book tour — will be blackballed by its grudge-holding candidate.
“It’s a time for choosing,” a Trump insider told RealClearPolitics.
“If you work for Ron DeSantis’ presidential race, you will not work for the Trump campaign or in the Trump White House.”
Meanwhile, DeSantis insiders are increasingly worried that Trump’s broadsides are taking a toll.
The former president is “trying to kill [DeSantis] in the crib,” one unnamed adviser complained to the Washington Post — while the still-undeclared presidential candidate dithers over how to respond.
Wife Casey DeSantis, in particular, is reportedly holding her husband back from getting into a mud fight with Trump: “She’s not a down-in-the-dirt person,” one insider said.
“He’s got tons of DeSantis-curious voters, but he’s trying to build this brand for himself as a fighter, and they’re going to have to see him fight,” said GOP strategist Sarah Longwell.
“There’s no going around Trump, just through.”
The Morning Consult tracking poll this week showed Trump trouncing DeSantis, 54% to 26%, among Republican primary voters — the Florida governor’s lowest level of support in the survey since December.