Earlier this week, Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, expressed his skepticism about personally endorsing ex-President Donald Trump if the latter were to become the Republican nominee for the 2024 elections.
DeSantis criticizes Trump instead of pledging his support
DeSantis instead utilized the question posed to him as an occasion to critique the current favorite for the GOP nominee.
A journalist queried DeSantis regarding the disparagements Trump has aimed at him, asking, “Even with these attacks in mind, can you firmly pledge your support for Trump if he’s the GOP nominee?”
Trump vs DeSantis: The pandemic response
Instead of providing a direct answer, DeSantis challenged Trump’s criticisms first, focusing especially on Trump’s comments on DeSantis’s response to the pandemic.
DeSantis responded, “Here’s what I have to say: when you make the claim that Cuomo handled the COVID situation better than Florida, you expose yourself as being insincere. Nobody buys that.”
DeSantis suggests Trump has changed his tune
He reminded those in attendance of how Trump had once praised Florida’s open state status in 2020 and 2021, applauding DeSantis’s leadership.
“Now he’s singing a different song,” DeSantis pointed out, asking, “Do you find his sudden change credible? Would you have preferred to be in New York under Cuomo’s rule during the pandemic or in the unrestricted state of Florida?” He brushed off Trump’s criticisms as “trivial.”
Furthermore, DeSantis said Trump was attempting to “retreat” as he “feels the need to do so.”
DeSantis: Trump is ‘making false statements’
He continued, “He’s making false statements, but if that’s his choice, fine. I don’t believe people will fall for it,” remaining non-committal about whether he would back Trump.
Instead, DeSantis argued that the critique probably wouldn’t influence the eventual outcome, confidently projecting his own victory.
DeSantis confident he will win against Trump
“I don’t think it will be a determining factor in the end. I believe we’ll be victorious, but you need to participate in these processes. My aim is to defeat Biden. That’s a promise I intend to keep,” DeSantis said.
“The primaries are a crucial process,” DeSantis noted, indirectly addressing the question, adding, “We should respect the process and the choices made by the people. But I have no doubt that the outcomes will favor us.”
It’s noteworthy that the Republican National Committee (RNC) demands that all qualifying candidates in debates pledge their support to the party’s nominee.
Trump questions DeSantis’ loyalty
Meanwhile, Trump continues to censure DeSantis for alleged disloyalty even before DeSantis officially announced his campaign. “I was responsible for his election,” Trump declared to Fox New’s Bret Baier, “So I found it incredibly disloyal when he announced his intention to run. I had helped him win two races.”
Trump considers himself a stalwart loyalist. “People tell me not to worry about loyalty in politics. But to me, it matters. I was the one who got him elected,” Trump said, arguing that DeSantis had sought his help “crying because he was finished.”
Trump still the clear favourite
“His current trajectory suggests that he could be replaced. His popularity is dwindling rapidly,” Trump added regarding recent poll trends, saying, “He might fall to third or fourth place, and then you won’t hear me mention him again.”
Recent polls show Trump as the unambiguous favorite, leading the increasingly crowded field of contenders by a significant margin.