Former President Trump on Monday sought to discourage Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) from officially getting into the 2024 presidential race, claiming it would ultimately divide the GOP and hurt DeSantis’s career.
“Ron DeSantis is a young man who is not doing well against me in the polls, to put it mildly,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “I believe that if he decides to run for President, which will only hurt and somewhat divide the Republican Party, he will lose the cherished and massive MAGA vote, and never be able to successfully run for office again.”
“If he remains Governor, which is what Florida voters assumed, it would be a whole different story….JUST SAYIN’ – But who knows?” Trump added.
DeSantis has not yet announced whether he is running for president in 2024, but he is widely expected to get into the race in the coming months. He has been quietly assembling staff, and an outside pro-DeSantis group has also recently hired several staffers who previously worked with former President Trump in his administration or campaign.
DeSantis has also started traveling to early voting states in the GOP primary calendar, such as Iowa and South Carolina.
The governor is widely viewed as Trump’s most formidable potential challenger based on polling data. Some polls in individual states have shown DeSantis leading Trump, including in Florida, Georgia and Iowa.
But national polls have shown Trump with a healthy lead over DeSantis and other potential challengers for the 2024 GOP nomination. A Fox News poll released last week found Trump with 54 percent support among GOP primary voters, with DeSantis the next closest candidate at 24 percent.
Trump and an aligned super PAC, MAGA Inc., have ramped up attacks on DeSantis in recent weeks, highlighting his past comments on Social Security and Medicare in particular.
Trump last week was charged in Manhattan criminal court with 34 felony counts over his involvement in a scheme to pay hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels in the weeks before the 2016 election to keep quiet an alleged affair.
DeSantis has criticized the prosecution as politically motivated, but last month he took a swipe at Trump over the situation, saying he had not paid hush money to a porn star so could not weigh in at length on the matter.