Former President Donald Trump claimed during an interview this week that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) “begged” him for an endorsement in the state’s gubernatorial primary election in 2018 and that DeSantis was crying when he asked.
Trump made his latest unprovoked attack against the 44-year-old governor during an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Thursday while making attacks against other potential 2024 presidential candidates, including former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA).
“Ron DeSantis got elected because of me. You remember he had nothing. He was dead. He was leaving the race,” Trump claimed. “He came over and he begged me, begged me for an endorsement. He was getting ready to drop out. I gave him an endorsement, and as soon as I gave that endorsement, in fact, I said you’re going to have a hard time.”
“He said if you endorse me, I’ll win. And there were tears coming down from his eyes,” Trump claimed. “He said if you endorse me, I’ll win. I said you know what, Ron, Ron was one of 150 people that was on television. I mean, Jim Jordan was the best, and others were great. But he was one of 150, Hugh, that was on television, and he was supporting me on the impeachment hoax number one, and a little bit on the impeachment hoax number two. And I said I don’t know Adam Putnam, so we’ll do it.”
Trump has repeatedly sought to brand DeSantis as “very disloyal” for thinking about running for president in 2024.
DeSantis, who is believed to be considering a White House run, has not engaged Trump as he rides a wave of popularity that extends well beyond the Sunshine State. A recent poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire has DeSantis leading Trump 42% to 30% among likely Republican voters in the important Granite State. No other potential Republican challengers are in double digits.
The attack on DeSantis over his COVID policies was curious, given that DeSantis reopened Florida schools and businesses long before other big states and was an early and vocal opponent of mask and vaccine mandates.
“I roll out of bed, I have people attacking me from all angles. It’s been happening for many, many years,” DeSantis said, adding that “in a crisis situation like COVID, the good thing about it is when you’re an elected executive, you have to make all kinds of decisions, you’ve got to steer that ship.”
“And the good thing is, is that the people are able to render a judgment on that, whether they reelect you or not,” DeSantis said. “And I’m happy to say, you know, in my case, not only did we win re-election, we won with the highest percentage of the vote that any Republican governor candidate has in the history of the state of Florida.”
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