Former President Donald Trump had previously said that if Ron DeSantis ends up jumping into the race for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, he’ll “handle” the Florida governor “the way I handle things.” It was clearly a pointed reference to the way the ex-president has “handled” his real and perceived competition in the past, i.e., through threats, intimidation, and insults. And he’s wasted no time doing just that.
In an interview on Thursday, Trump told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that he was single-handedly responsible for getting DeSantis elected as governor in 2018. While this is a claim Trump has made before, this time he added a bit more flourish to the story.
“Ron DeSantis got elected because of me,” he told Hewitt. “You remember, he had nothing, he was dead, he was leaving the race, he came over and he begged me, begged me, for an endorsement. He was getting ready to drop out…. He said, ‘If you endorse me, I’ll win,’ and there were tears coming down from his eyes.”
He later added that once he rubber-stamped DeSantis’s campaign, “everything collapsed” for primary opponent Adam Putnam, and that the endorsement got DeSantis “past the crackhead [Andrew Gillum], who was the hottest person in the Democratic Party at the time,” in the general election.
Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently flaunted his 2022 midterm election victory margin when he was asked about former President Trump’s latest line of attack against him. It has been noted that the rising conservative star has dodged responding directly to Trump’s attacks that have mounted since the midterms, which triggered an internal reckoning over who might be best positioned to lead the party.
The rivalry with Trump hangs over every move DeSantis makes. Their relationship dates back to the governor’s 2018 primary campaign, when an endorsement from Trump helped the little-known congressman win the nomination. A viral ad featuring DeSantis and his family, including two young children, highlighted his allegiance to Trump.