Hours before Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was set to officially announce his candidacy for president, his top rival for the Republican nomination unleashed a fury of criticism via social media, targeting everything from the governor’s electability to his personality and character.
“Ron DeSanctus can’t win the General Election (or get the nomination) because he voted to obliterate Social Security, even wanting to raise the minimum age to 70 (or more!), voted to badly wound Medicare, and fought hard and voted for a 23% ‘tax on everything’ sales tax,” former President Donald Trump wrote on Truth Social on May 24.
“He was, and is, a disciple of horrible RINO Paul Ryan, and others too many to mention,” Trump added. “Also, he desperately needs a personality transplant and, to the best of my knowledge, they are not medically available yet. A disloyal person!”
In several other posts, Trump criticized DeSantis’s character, noting that the former congressman had come to him in 2018 seeking his endorsement for governor.
“Look, Rob DeSanctimonious came to me asking for help,” he wrote in one post. “He was losing badly, by 31 points, to popular Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. He was getting ready to drop out of the race—Ran a terrible campaign!
“Ron told me he had one last chance, my Support & Endorsement, which Putnam, and everyone else, wanted also. I gave it to Ron, and the race was over. In one day, he went from losing badly, to winning by a lot. With 3 large Trump rallies, he won the general election in an upset. Disloyal!!!”
When reached for comment about Trump’s remarks, Bryan Griffin, a DeSantis spokesperson, pointed to his previous assertion that Trump views the governor as a threat.
“These are the largest ongoing expenditures against a non-candidate in Republican primary history, and that’s all you need to know to draw the obvious conclusion,” Griffin wrote in a May 22 tweet, sharing financial reports from Trump’s Make America Great Again, Inc. super PAC showing more than $15 million in ad buys opposing DeSantis.
“@RonDeSantis presents the greatest threat to Donald Trump.”
After months of mounting speculation over whether DeSantis would enter the race, a spokesperson confirmed to The Epoch Times on Tuesday that he would announce his presidential bid Wednesday during a Twitter Spaces interview with the social media platform’s owner, Elon Musk.
DeSantis is scheduled to announce his campaign at 6 p.m. ET, joining a growing field of Republican contenders in which Trump holds a commanding lead.
As of May 24, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, 56.3 percent of Republican primary voters preferred Trump to DeSantis, who came in a distant second at 19.4 percent.
Other official Republican candidates include former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, conservative talk show host Larry Elder, and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who officially announced his candidacy on Monday.
Meanwhile, former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu have also been floated as potential challengers but have not made any formal announcements to that effect.
Citing unnamed sources, CNN reported Wednesday that the Trump camp was planning to “upend” DeSantis’ campaign launch with a social media blitz and gathering of Trump surrogates in Miami, where the governor was set to meet with donors from May 24-26.
When reached for comment, Steven Cheung, a Trump campaign spokesman, told The Epoch Times, “We will not get ahead of what may or may not happen.”
Joining the Fray
While the 45th president has been vocal in denouncing his one-time ally, DeSantis has largely refrained from criticizing Trump, opting instead for an above-the-fray stance.
In March, however, the governor departed from that approach when asked to comment on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s pursuit of criminal charges against Trump relating to hush money payments that were made to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
DeSantis, while condemning Bragg’s efforts, also appeared to slight Trump in his response.
“You’re paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair—I can’t speak to that,” he said. “What I can speak to is you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in your jurisdictions, and you’re choosing to go back many, many years ago to try to use something about porn star hush money payments. That’s an example of pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office. And I think that’s fundamentally wrong.”
The subtle dig at Trump’s alleged infidelity may have been a test shot for DeSantis, who now faces the challenge of positioning himself as a better candidate than Trump without losing support from Trump’s devoted base, which currently holds significant sway in the Republican Party.
And given that DeSantis was elected governor with the help of that same base, he may be facing an uphill battle.
According to a poll conducted April 13-14 by Florida Atlantic University, 59 percent of registered Republican voters in Florida chose Trump as their preferred presidential nominee, while 31 percent chose DeSantis.
Additionally, the vast majority of respondents in the poll indicated they had already made up their minds as to who would get their vote.
Nonetheless, the governor received endorsements from 51 New Hampshire state representatives on Tuesday, according to the DeSantis-aligned super PAC Never Back Down, and has also been backed by former Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer, and seven sitting members of Congress, among others.
“New Hampshire wants a leader with a winning conservative record that will bring new energy and economic growth to our country. They know that leader is Governor Ron DeSantis,” said Never Back Down Communications Director Erin Perrine in a statement.
“Under Governor DeSantis’s leadership, Florida has become the fastest growing state in the country, and he’s secured historic tax cuts for Floridians, including eliminating the state’s sales tax on baby items to support Florida families. New Hampshire’s leaders know his success should serve as a blueprint for our nation and are excited to support him because he can defeat Joe Biden in 2024 and put our country back on track.”
The Epoch Times has contacted the DeSantis campaign for comment.
From The Epoch Times