(Trends Wide) — Donald Trump may be waiting to announce his (seemingly inevitable) bid for his old post in 2024, but he’s already firing warning shots at a potential rival for the nomination.
When asked about the possibility of facing Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2024, Trump was hugely dismissive.
“If I were up against him, I would beat him like everyone else,” Trump told Yahoo Finance late last week. “I think most would drop out, I think he would drop out.”
Make no mistake about what Trump is doing here: He is sending a very clear shot through the DeSantis arc, making sure that the newest and biggest star in the national Republican firmament knows that he cannot hope to beat the former president, and neither you should even try.
It remains to be seen if Trump’s aggressive approach to a DeSantis candidacy influences the Florida governor’s thinking about 2024. But, as with so much Trump says about other people, it is deeply revealing about the former president and how he thinks about it. himself and in his role in the party and the country.
Trump sees himself, indeed, as the king of the Republican Party. In his mind, everyone is not only below him, but he also owes a debt of gratitude for having any kind of power. And that point of view greatly influences how you view DeSantis.
DeSantis was a virtually unknown Republican congressman when Trump endorsed him in late 2017. “Congressman Ron DeSantis is a brilliant young leader, from Yale and then Harvard Law, who would make a GREAT Governor of Florida. He loves our country and is a true Fighter! “Trump tweeted.
That endorsement propelled DeSantis to a comeback victory in the Republican Party primaries and eventually to the governor’s mansion.
Trump, as is his custom, took full credit for DeSantis’ success. “I was 3, I had no money,” Trump said in February 2020. “Someone else was at 38 and had $ 22 million in cash, right? I said, ‘Look, if it’s important, I’ll do it,’ because he’s He’s been another great warrior. And by the way, he ran, I supported him, his numbers skyrocketed. “
What Trump probably didn’t plan for is how DeSantis, once in office, has emerged as a conservative hero.
Much of that rise has to do with their resistance to science when it comes to how best to combat the spread of the coronavirus. DeSantis resisted quarantining his state, and when he did, he quickly reopened it, insisting that it was a fight for freedom and not a public health crisis. DeSantis has drawn national headlines with his skepticism about the use of masks. And an attempt by “60 Minutes” to expose it by suggesting that there was a link between a campaign donation and the distribution of vaccines in the state turned into a total debacle for CBS, and manna from heaven for DeSantis. He has also used his position to fight the so-called “woke culture” in higher education.
In doing so, DeSantis has become the most popular unnamed Republican Trump among the party’s rank and file. At this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, two unofficial polls were conducted on the 2024 elections. The former president won the first poll. DeSantis won the second, without Trump. (DeSantis took 21% in the poll with Trump, the only candidate other than the former president to garner double-digit support.) At the Conservative Western Summit, held in June in Denver, DeSantis was in fact the most voted (275) of those in attendance when it came to asking who they would approve as a candidate for president in 2024. Trump came in second, with 265 .
And that’s exactly where DeSantis went from being a proud project for Trump to a potential threat. You see, Trump is not the leader of the Republican Party in any traditional sense. If it were, promoting to conservative young stars would be the kind of thing I’d (and should) do. Trump doesn’t see his role that way. Your job is to be the unquestioned boss of the party while everyone else’s job, including DeSantis, is to bow to that reality.
That’s what makes 2024 so intriguing. If, as expected, Trump runs to regain his old job, will everyone, including DeSantis, line up behind him? Or will someone, or several, run to take the party beyond Trump?