According to polling published this week by RealClearPolitics, Quinnipiac and Reuters/Ipsos show Trump is far ahead of DeSantis among self-identified Republicans. The former president leads the governor 42%-36% in the Quinnipiac survey and 43%-31% in the second polling, according to RealClearPolitics.
DeSantis, who was re-elected to a second term in November, is expected to run for the White House but has not made it official. He trounced Democrat Charlie Crist by 19 points in last year’s gubernatorial election and made Democrats take notice when “blue” Miami-Dade County flipped “red” to support him. He is also scoring points with conservatives by attacking "wokeism" in public schools, state government, and Big Business.
This week, in a radio interview on American Family Radio, the former president took credit for DeSantis being elected governor in November 2018. DeSantis was “dead in politics” and was ready to drop out of the gubernatorial race when he asked Trump to endorse him, the former president recalled. At the time, which was December of 2017, DeSantis was a U.S. congressman representing Florida’s 6th District. He was described as a “tea party conservative” by the national media, which was not a compliment, and other prominent Republicans in Florida were jumping in the governor’s race with name recognition and lots of campaign cash. And then came Trump's endorsement.
“And for whatever reason,” Trump told show host Jenna Ellis, “I did endorse [DeSantis] and he ended up going up like a rocket ship and he won that [primary] election.”
Trump made a similar comment about DeSantis on the Hugh Hewitt Show, where he said the underdog candidate for governor literally cried and begged for Trump’s endorsement.
"There were tears coming down from his eyes,” Trump claimed in the Feb. 3 radio show.
That claim came after Trump viciously mocked DeSantis in public, at a political rally on the eve of the Election Day last November, where he called the popular governor “Ron DeSanctimonious.” Trump also mocked another possible White House candidate, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, and said his name sounds “Chinese.”
More recently, Trump is said to be calling Gov. DeSantis "Meatball Ron" when he talks about the governor.
In the radio interview with Ellis, his former personal attorney, Trump made it plainly clear he would view DeSantis running as a sign of disloyalty.
“He's got to do what he's got to do," Trump said of DeSantis running for the White House. "I just let people know, because I believe in loyalty, that he was like at 3%...
“Somebody gets you in [and] you sort of be loyal to that person,” Trump said elsewhere in the interview.
In another political attack, the former president is also claiming Gov. DeSantis closed down Florida “for a long period of time” during the COVID-19 pandemic. That is quite an odd accusation to make considering Trump praised DeSantis for re-opening the state and for refusing to keep it locked down despite claims people would die.
In fact, Democrats called him “Gov. Deathsantis” for refusing to stop business and commerce during the pandemic. That nickname stuck and will follow DeSantis if he runs for president along with other nicknames dreamed up by Trump.