Ron DeSantis plays down feud with Trump: ‘That’s total bunk’

Neither Mr Trump nor Mr DeSantis have formally announced their 2024 candidacies

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 09 February 2022 15:49 GMT
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Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says rumours that he and former President Donald Trump are at odds are "total bunk" and insists he has given the former president his full support.

"Donald Trump's a friend of mine," Mr DeSantis said in an interview with on Monday. "He is proud when people do well, and it's not just me, but obviously he's a Florida resident, and he appreciates the job that we've done. He's told me that many times, not only with helping with the election, but just how we govern the state."

Speculation that there may be tension between the Republicans has been mounting in recent weeks. While Mr Trump remains far and away the favoured 2024 presidential candidate among Republican voters, Mr DeSantis is the next most popular candidate among the base.

Last week, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones – a booster for Mr Trump during most of his presidency and a participant in the rallies that preceded the Capitol riot – suggested he would like to see a presidential ticket that included Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and Mr DeSantis as running mates.

Conservative columnist Ann Coulter has also voiced her support for a Republican party led by Mr DeSantis. She believes Mr Trump betrayed his base and said she – and other Republicans – do not want him back. Ms Coulter has instead pointed to Mr DeSantis as the ideal Republican to lead the party into 2024.

“Give voters a populist conservative who’s not a con man and a liar and they’ll be ‘Republicans’ again,” she wrote. “No wonder Trump hates DeSantis.”

The New York Times reported last month that the relationship between Mr Trump and Mr DeSantis had become confrontational. According to Axios, sources claim Mr Trump has privately disparaged Mr DeSantis as "dull" and lacking in "personal charisma”.

Further, Mr Trump called politicians who refuse to reveal their booster status “gutless” – a shot many political analysts believe was aimed at Mr DeSantis, who generally dodges any questions about his own vaccination status.

Political commenters have noted that Mr DeSantis could capitalise on his staunch rejection of coronavirus lockdown and mitigation measures during the pandemic as a way to flank Mr Trump from the right and peel off his supporters.

While both Mr Trump and Mr DeSantis have called on Republicans to take the coronavirus vaccine, Mr Trump has celebrated the vaccine, revealing that he is both vaccinated and boosted, much to the dismay of many rank-and-file conservatives who oppose the vaccine. Mr Trump sees the vaccine as a key accomplishment of his administration and has called on Republicans to embrace and celebrate it as well.

Mr DeSantis – even during Mr Trump's administration – obstructed many efforts to mitigate the virus’ spread in Florida. He rescinded local governments' rights to enact their own emergency mandates – like mask and vaccine requirements – and withheld the pay of school district employees in districts that required students to wear masks.

Neither Mr DeSantis nor Mr Trump have formally announced their candidacies for the 2024 Republican primaries. Mr Trump has frequently teased a return run, but Mr DeSantis has largely been mum on the topic.

"He wants to see Republicans doing well," Mr DeSantis said of Mr Trump on Fox News. "And I think when media is trying to act like he's upset at me for doing well, I think that's total bunk. I think they're just making it up. And I think he's somebody that wants to see, you know, not just Republicans do well, but people that are actually going to stand and fight do well across the board."

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