Former President Donald Trump blasted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on topics ranging from his policy to his personality in a new interview, criticizing the governor for essentially campaigning for president without filing.
Asked if he would endorse DeSantis should he become the GOP nominee for president in 2024, Trump wouldn’t give a definitive answer.
“It’s too early to say. So far, I’m not a fan of the way that he’s running,” Trump told The Messenger in an interview published Monday. “The guy’s doing ads. He’s acting as a candidate, but he doesn’t have to play by the rules because he hasn’t filed, which is a total violation.” An independent political committee is running ads, not DeSantis himself.
As it became clear that the Florida governor was flirting with a GOP presidential bid in 2024, Trump didn’t pick up the phone and question DeSantis’ intentions.
“But if he runs, he runs. But he’s very disloyal. He was a dead man walking” before Trump endorsed him for governor in 2018, the former president said. “He was dead, dead as a doornail. And I revived him. … I’m a loyal person. If that happened to me, I would never run against the guy that did that.”
DeSantis, 44, has “got plenty of years left,” the former president added, explaining that the governor would lose Trump’s voter base in future elections if he runs this time around.
When the Florida governor first emerged as a leading GOP contender for president — though he hasn’t officially announced his candidacy — he was close to Trump in the polls. His popularity has dipped in the past couple months, and Trump believes it’s a personal issue.
“He’s got no personality. And I don’t think he’s got a lot of political skill,” Trump said.
In recent weeks, even many in the anti-abortion movement believed that DeSantis’ six-week ban on abortions was too harsh, Trump said.
“If you look at what DeSantis did, a lot of people don’t even know if he knew what he was doing,” he said, refusing to take a stance on the issue himself.
DeSantis, for his part, has mostly refrained from taking direct aim at Trump, even as he comes under fire from the former president. In an American Conservative article about the Disney lawsuit published Monday, DeSantis declined to take shots at the former president, instead opting to punch left.
“We’re a distinct country. We have a distinct people, and that needs to mean something. We have an identifiable culture. We have identifiable traditions,” DeSantis said. “And I think a lot of [the left’s] project is to really undermine a lot of the institutions and traditions and values that have stood the test of time.”