Sep 27th, 2022
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis routinely torches former President Donald Trump in private, calling him a “moron who has no business running for president” according to a former DeSantis staffer.
DeSantis has dominated headlines lately with his ostentatiously political transports of migrants to places like Martha’s Vineyard and (maybe) Delaware, but Trump continues to dominate Republican primary polls despite weathering bombshell after bombshell in the FBI probe of documents seized at Mar-a-Lago and a summer of devastating January 6 hearings.
But DeSantis has without a doubt emerged as Trump’s main rival, and he has done so by projecting himself as a version of Trump with less baggage, while speaking not a syllable against Trump.
According to a former DeSantis staffer, it’s a different story in private. In a new deep dive for Vanity Fair, Gabe Sherman writes that the enmity goes both ways, with Trump resenting DeSantis because he “made him”:
While DeSantis and the former president are already locked in a 2024 cold war, the smackdown has been unfolding off camera. According to a former DeSantis congressional staffer, DeSantis trashes Trump in private.
“He calls him a TV personality and a moron who has no business running for president,” the former staffer said. DeSantis tells donors that, if he takes on Trump, he would launch a full frontal attack on his record and competence, according to a GOP source briefed on the conversations. “DeSantis says the only way to beat Trump is to attack him head-on. ”
Trump, meanwhile, vents about DeSantis constantly, according to people who speak with him. Trump’s animus is fueled by his belief that he put DeSantis in the governor’s mansion. In conversations, Trump reminds people that then congressman DeSantis was losing by double digits during the 2018 gubernatorial primary until Trump backed him. Sources said it galls Trump that DeSantis hasn’t acknowledged the boost Trump provided, aside from a cursory acknowledgement in his victory speech.
Trump tells people, ‘I made Ron,’” a prominent Republican told Vanity Fair. “Trump says that about a lot of people. But in this case it’s actually true.”
Despite Trump’s dominance in primary polls, DeSantis has shown signs of being a credible rival against Trump in certain state polls, and often runs better than Trump against President Joe Biden in state and national polls. As their rivalry spills out into the media, the lines of support could become clearer.