According to Mediaite, the Trump campaign took the opportunity to mock Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, claiming he got “spanked on Fox News” in a memo sent to reporters. The memo criticized DeSantis over a Fox News interview on The Ingraham Angle, where he was questioned about a controversial endorsement and alleged financial ties. The Trump spokesperson, Steven Cheung, referred to the interview as a source of embarrassment for DeSantis. The memo also highlighted polling data, indicating DeSantis at 14% in a Morning Consult poll compared to President Trump’s 64% lead. The campaign used vivid language, characterizing the situation as a “terrible 24 hours” for DeSantis and suggesting humiliation over the perceived lack of a boost in poll numbers.
The referenced Fox News interview involved Laura Ingraham questioning DeSantis about an endorsement from Bob Vander Plaats and the financial transactions linked to DeSantis’ campaign. While DeSantis defended the legitimacy of the endorsement and clarified his lack of control over a specific PAC’s advertising expenditures, the Trump campaign seized the opportunity to portray the exchange as a setback for the governor.
LAURA INGRAHAM: Bob Vander Plaats, I know him, he’s the influential Iowa faith Leader. He recently gave you his endorsement, which is coveted in the state. But now there are questions surrounding the money he received from groups linked to your campaign. Now, he was asked about this last week on Special Report. Watch.
BRET BAIER: DeSantis campaign, a superPAC linked to him, a nonprofit group supporting him together paid $95,000 in recent months to the Family Leader Foundation, according to campaign finance reports. That not true or that’s true?
BOB VANDER PLAATS: Well, it’s definitely true. And I encourage everybody to read the Reuters article. Everything we do is above board.
LAURA INGRAHAM: Governor, the allegations, obviously, or the inference here would be that it was like a pay to play to get an endorsement. You have a chance to clear that up.
RON DESANTIS: Well this PAC I don’t control, as you know, but they paid for advertising. So that’s a very influential group of evangelicals in Iowa. They’ve hosted a number of major events. They had a summer event. We just had the Thanksgiving forum. So they’re paying to be able to be in programs and to be able to advertise the candidacy. And that happens. That’s frequently happened.
But Bob Vander Plaats’s endorsement is not for sale. He’s got a great reputation. He’s become a friend of Casey and me along the way. He’s very influential in Iowa. And so it’s a scurrilous charge it’s without merit. And, you know, if somebody endorses somebody other than you, you don’t always have to lash out and attack the person who made the endorsement. It’s a primary. People can have different choices in this, and there’s not always an ulterior motive.
So I think the attacks against Bob Vander Plaats have been a bit out of bounds, just as I think the attacks against Governor Kim Reynolds have been out of bounds.
The recurring use of the “spanking” metaphor aimed at DeSantis by the Trump team has become a consistent theme in their criticism. This memo follows a pattern of employing colorful language and vivid imagery to undermine DeSantis, adding another layer to the ongoing political dynamics within the Republican party. The Trump campaign’s tactic involves not only emphasizing specific incidents but also leveraging polling data to underscore perceived weaknesses in DeSantis’ standing compared to Trump’s popularity.