During an interview this week, former President Donald Trump stated that Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida "pleaded" with him for an endorsement during the state's gubernatorial primary election in 2018 and that DeSantis was "crying" during the request.
In a Thursday interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Trump made a new unprovoked attack on 44-year-old DeSantis, while also criticizing other potential candidates for the 2024 presidential election, including former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia.
“Ron DeSantis got elected because of me. You remember he had nothing. He was dead. He was leaving the race,” Trump stated. “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 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.”
Donald Trump claims that Ron DeSantis called him before the 2018 primary in tears begging for an endorsement:
"He said, 'if you endorse me, I'll win,' and there were tears coming down from his eyes." pic.twitter.com/ndWuXNqZU4
— The Republican Accountability Project (@AccountableGOP) February 2, 2023
Trump has repeatedly accused DeSantis of being "very disloyal" for considering a run for president in 2024.
DeSantis, rumored to be considering a bid for the White House, has refrained from responding to Trump's accusations. He is currently experiencing high popularity, not only in Florida but also beyond the state. A recent poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire shows that DeSantis is leading Trump 42% to 30% among likely Republican voters in New Hampshire. No other potential Republican candidates have reached double-digit support.
Trump has recently made other attacks on DeSantis, including attempting to give him a nickname and criticizing the governor's handling of the COVID pandemic.
DeSantis responded to a reporter's inquiry about the attacks by stating that he is unaffected by the comments of detractors and remains focused on serving the citizens of Florida.
Trump's criticism of DeSantis' COVID policies is questionable, given that DeSantis reopened Florida's schools and businesses before other major states, and he was an early opponent of mandatory masks and vaccines.
DeSantis responded to the COVID-related attacks by stating that he is used to being criticized and that it has been happening to him for many years. He emphasized that as an elected executive, he has to make various decisions in a crisis situation like COVID, and his focus remains serving the people of Florida.
“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.”
“We won by the largest raw vote margin, over 1.5 million votes, than any governor candidate has ever had in Florida history. And in fact, we almost doubled the previous record, which I think was like 780,000 vote margin,” DeSantis continued. “And so what I would just say is, that verdict has been rendered by the people of the state of Florida.”
DESANTIS RESPONDS TO TRUMP ATTACKS: "I roll out of bed, I have people attacking me from all angles [...] In my case, not only did we win re-election, we won with the highest percentage of the vote than any Republican governor candidate in the history of the state of Florida." pic.twitter.com/FLEXeVPlRn
— Florida’s Voice (@FLVoiceNews) January 31, 2023
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