Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has privately vented to staffers that Donald Trump, a likely contender for the Republican presidential ticket in 2024, is a “moron” and has no business running for the Oval Office for a second time.
The revelations about the inside murmurings from the Republican governor arrive from a deeply reported Vanity Fair profile, which tracks the firebrand Florida politician’s rise from a controversial figure in the GOP to a likely challenger in the 2024 presidential election.
Though the governor has been mum publicly about any animus he holds towards the former president, behind closed doors it’s apparently a different story.
Former staffers for the Florida Republican reportedly told Vanity Fair that, “[DeSantis] calls him a TV personality and a moron who has no business running for president”.
Elsewhere in the report, donors for Mr DeSantis describe how the man who seems to have successfully taken up the mantle of being a champion for MAGA Republicans plans to go on a “full frontal attack” should he be forced to face off with the man who birthed the movement in 2015.
“DeSantis says the only way to beat Trump is to attack him head-on,” one GOP source briefed on conversations told Vanity Fair. “He says he would turn to Trump during a debate and say, ‘Why didn’t you fire Fauci? You said you would build the wall, but there is no wall. Why is that?’”
The revelations about Mr DeSantis sniping at Mr Trump, who credits himself for landing the firebrand politician in the governor’s mansion in Florida, arrive as a separate report found that the one-term president can also be rather two-faced when it comes to discussing his potential 2024 rival.
According to a new book from New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman, Mr Trump has reportedly described Mr DeSantis as “fat,” “phony” and “whiny”.
Former Trump aides confided in the veteran White House reporter for her upcoming book, Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America, claiming that they’d overheard conversations where the president painted his potential 2024 rival in unflattering terms while simultaneously credited himself for delivering him an election victory in the governor’s race.
Ron DeSantis is the second most popular Republican leader. Donald Trump has noticed.
“I heard that Trump was describing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in similar terms, calling him ‘fat,’ ‘phony,’ and ‘whiny,’ while claiming credit for making his candidacy in 2018,” Ms Haberman writes.
During an appearance on the right-wing Newsmax channel in the summer, Mr Trump was asked by the host what his thoughts were on the Florida governor making a run for commander-in-chief on the GOP ticket, a matchup that the former US president has indicated he would surely win if he did decide to run.
“Well, I don’t know that he wants to run, you know, I have a good relationship with Ron,” the one-term president began, before adding: “But I was very responsible for him getting elected, as you know,” he said.
Neither Mr Trump nor Mr DeSantis have announced their bids for the White House, but it has been widely speculated that both men have been soft launching their campaigns for the past few months as they engage in national profile-raising activities.
For Mr DeSantis, that has looked like sending two planes of migrants from the US southern border and dropping them in Martha’s Vineyard, despite not telling the people onboard where they were actually headed.
As for Mr Trump, the past few months have been spent stumping for MAGA Republicans he’s endorsed for various midterm races across the country, using the public events as pseudo-Trump rallies evocative of his runup to the 2016 election.