Former President Donald Trump took aim at likely Republican primary rival Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a recent campaign rally, with much of his comments garnering little praise from those in attendance.
During his Saturday campaign event in Waco, Texas, Trump argued that without the former president’s endorsement, DeSantis had little chance of becoming Florida’s governor, with Trump breaking into an impersonation of DeSantis allegedly begging him for his support in the state’s 2018 Republican primary.
“So, he came, and he really wanted [my endorsement]. I said, ‘You can’t win, can you? How do you – can [you] win?'” Trump said, recalling the alleged conversation with DeSantis. “‘Sir, if you endorse me, I’ll win. Please, please, sir, endorse me,'” Trump continued as he acted out a crying, begging voice.
While Trump’s previous rallies featured similar insults at political opponents, many in attendance were considerably quieter when Trump took aim at DeSantis. Though some in the audience could be heard laughing or cheering as Trump continued to criticize DeSantis, the crowd’s reaction was considerably more quiet than when Trump attacked other targets, such as the mainstream media, according to FoxNews.
DeSantis, who has yet to declare his candidacy for President in 2024, is widely viewed as Trump’s main adversary in the Republican primary field. Many observers have cited the governor’s rising national prominence and popularity in the important swing state of Florida as reasons DeSantis may be a legitimate challenger to Trump.
The reality has caused Trump to criticize DeSantis more regularly in recent weeks, a trend that will continue during the former president’s looks in Waco.
“He gets the nomination because of you. He wins the election because of you. Two years later, the fake … is up there saying, ‘Will you run against the president? Will you run?’ And he says, ‘I have no comment,’” Trump said after arguing that DeSantis was virtually dead in the race before his endorsement.
Trump criticized DeSantis for his handling of COVID-19, claiming that other states did not shut down as Florida did at the start of the pandemic and blasted the Florida governor’s record of pushing to cut Social Security payments while in Congress. The former president also said that Florida was in good shape before DeSantis took office.
“Remember one thing: Florida has been tremendously successful for many years, long before this guy became governor,” Trump said. “Florida was tremendously successful under Rick Scott … whether you like him or not, Charlie Crist was very successful, he was a Republican at the time. But Florida has been successful for decades, in fact, probably as or more successful than it is now.”