Recent developments have given new weight to speculation that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis could seriously challenge former President Donald Trump’s reelection.
Will MAGA voters be forced to choose between their two most beloved politicians?
A pair of news articles, a poll and some feisty comments by Trump have sent media hype over the potential GOP presidential primary showdown into overdrive.
THE PROFILE: A New Yorker feature published Monday – titled “Can Ron DeSantis Displace Donald Trump as the GOP’s Combatant-in-Chief?” – showed that even media elites are starting to wake up to the Florida governor’s star power.
- Expounding on what makes DeSantis unique and formidable among Trump’s challengers, New Yorker staff writer Dexter Filkins wrote that the Florida governor “has been described as Trump with a brain.”
- He also cited a consultant to Republican candidates, who told him his colleagues are lining up to work with DeSantis.
THE INTERVIEW: During an appearance on Newsmax Monday, Trump fielded questions about a possible face-off against DeSantis.
- “I don’t know that he wants to run. I have a good relationship with Ron, I don’t know that he wants to run. I haven’t seen that. You’re telling me something that I’ve not seen, so we’ll see what happens,” Trump told “The Boiling” host Eric Bolling.
- “But no, I was very responsible for getting him elected.”
THE REPORT: DeSantis is raking in serious cash from former Trump donors, Politico reported over the weekend.
- The implication was that some of Trump’s key financiers are placing their bets on DeSantis over the former president.
- “It is possible Trump’s percentage of the Republicans keeps going down and I think it’s possible people will start looking elsewhere,” said Francis Rooney, a former Florida congressman and longtime GOP donor.
THE POLL: Thirty-nine percent of likely Republican voters backed DeSantis for president, compared to 37% for Trump, according to a poll released Wednesday by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.
- Earlier this month, DeSantis beat Trump in the annual Western Conservative Summit’s straw poll.
- 71% of participants said they wanted the Florida governor to run in 2024 compared to 67% for Trump.
THE SNUB: DeSantis has declined to seek out Trump’s endorsement for his reelection bid for Florida governor, Politico reported Wednesday, citing four people connected to the governor and former president.
- “[DeSantis is] a Cat 5 hurricane in Florida politics — and in a good way if you are a Republican,” Anthony Pedicini, a veteran GOP consultant in Florida, told Politico. “He is a force of nature.”
It remained unclear to what degree the Trump-DeSantis feud is a media creation.
- Despite anonymous news reports alleging disdain toward DeSantis from the Trump camp, both men have generally been full of praise for each other in public.
- Then there’s the matter of Trump’s enormous advantage over DeSantis and every other Republican contender in national surveys, including a Zogby Analytics poll released Wednesday.
- While DeSantis has yet to do so – to Trump’s apparent chagrin – it’s possible the governor will simply opt out of a 2024 run; or Trump could.
After all, nobody’s even announced yet.