Donald Trump has rattled close aides to Ron DeSantis who believe the Florida governor will have to campaign much harder to win the GOP nomination, according to reports.
Recent polls have shown Trump retaining a sizable lead, with a Morning Consult survey showing the ex-president leading DeSantis by 28 points, 54-26.
It’s the biggest lead Trump has seen since announcing his third run for the White House, although recent polls from Quinnipiac and Yahoo/YouGov showed him leading DeSantis by 14 to 15 points.
Sarah Longwell, a Republican anti-Trump strategist, credits the change to returning Trump supporters, as well as his barrage of attacks on DeSantis.
DeSantis’ advisers, according to the Washington Post, said the governor’s bid – which many believe will begin in May – has gone from a dead ‘coronation’ to a long 50-state fight for delegates.
Those close to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (pictured right) fear he may face a tougher challenge from former ally Donald Trump (pictured left) as it looks like he won’t give up his role as the GOP presidential candidate without a fight
Recent polls have shown former President Trump increasing his lead over Governor DeSantis
DeSantis’ confidants have said they still believe he can catch up, with former GOP Rep. Lou Barletta saying he’ll get a boost in the polls once he officially enters the race.
“People in many states are just getting to know him and the campaigns are long,” Barletta said.
A source close to DeSantis said he had “steel for the backbone” and would not bend the knee to Trump’s attacks, which they called “dumb smear tactics.”
But at least one person familiar with discussions around DeSantis’ campaign said they believed Trump was “trying to kill him in the cradle” and suggested the DeSantis team had no plan to fight back.
They talked about the governor’s wife, Casey DeSantis, who a source says is “not a mud person.”
Some critics of DeSantis in Florida have given him a damning nickname: “JebSantis.”
The remark refers to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who regularly ridiculed Trump during the 2016 campaign. Bush once endorsed DeSantis.
“DeSantis is quickly discovering that consolidating the anti-Trump vote in a GOP primary is like riding a multi-lane highway,” said Caroline Wren, a pro-Trump fundraiser.
“Any stance he takes in the future will be seen as a break with Trump, or a follow-on from Trump, and will ultimately alienate certain factions of the party.”
At least one person familiar with discussions around DeSantis’ campaign said they thought Trump was “trying to kill him in the crib” and suggested the DeSantis team had no plan to fight back.
Some critics of DeSantis in Florida have given him a damning nickname: “JebSantis.” The remark refers to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (pictured top middle), who was a regular source of ridicule from Trump during the 2016 campaign. Bush once endorsed DeSantis
Sources spoke about the governor’s wife, Casey DeSantis (pictured left), who one says is ‘not a mud person’ when it comes to responding to Trump
DeSantis has yet to officially launch a run for president in 2024, but is widely expected to do so when Florida’s legislative session ends.
Mike Pence, who also did not officially start a race, came in third at seven percent, followed by former UN ambassador Nikki Haley at four percent.
Former Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., received three percent support from those polled, though she was also not in the running.
But DeSantis fared slightly better against Biden than Trump.
Asked about a hypothetical matchup between Biden and DeSantis, respondents favored the current president 43-41%.
Former President Trump has now taken a 28-point lead over Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, according to a new poll
DeSantis has yet to officially launch a presidential race in 2024, but is widely expected to do so when Florida’s legislative session ends.
In a hypothetical matchup between Biden and Trump, Biden is ahead 44-41%.
The investigation was conducted March 17-19, just as news broke that Trump expects to be indicted by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Some 3,400 potential Republican primary voters responded, and the poll has a margin of error of two percentage points.
The Trump world has consistently launched attacks on DeSantis after his reluctance to come to the former president’s defense following news of his impending indictment.
DeSantis on Monday, after a two-day delay, attacked the investigation of GOP rival Trump. The Manhattan DA investigated the “silent” payment of $130,000 to Stormy Daniels. Trump reimbursed former repairman Michael Cohen for the payments.
DeSantis said he didn’t know “what goes into paying silent money to a porn star to get silence on some type of alleged affair,” then accused Bragg of ignoring the increasing crime in New York.
At the same time, he repeated some of Trump’s attacks, calling Bragg a “Soros-funded prosecutor” – a reference to a million dollar donation the billionaire made to Color of Change during the election of Bragg in 2021.
“What I can talk about is if you have a prosecutor who ignores the crimes that happen every day in his jurisdiction, and he chooses to go back to many, many years ago, to try to use something on silent money payments from pornstars,” DeSantis said, bringing up the merits of the case a second time.
“You know, this is an example of pursuing a political agenda and arming the office,” he added.
Trump resumed the dig at his silent payment and raged on Truth Social: ‘Ron DeSanctimonious will likely uncover FALSE ACCUSATIONS AND FALSE STORIES in the future as he gets older, wiser and better known when he is unjustly and illegally attacked by a woman, even “underage” classmates (or maybe a man!). I’m sure he’ll want to fight those misfits like I do!
DeSantis finally exposed the differences between himself and Trump in an interview with Piers Morgan published on Tuesday.
‘Well, I think there are several things. The COVID approach was different. I would have fired someone like Fauci. I think he got way too big for his pants, and I think he did a lot of damage.
“I also think that in terms of leadership approach, I get staff in government who have the people’s agenda and share our agenda. You bring your own diary when you are gone. We’re just not going to have that. So the way we run government I think is not a day to day drama, focus on the big picture and put some points on the board and I think that’s something very important.