Trump calls DeSantis a ‘rank amateur’ as he blasts governor’s media strategy

Former president says Florida governor has ‘no personality’ and not a lot of ‘political skill’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Monday 15 May 2023 16:21 BST
Related video: Roundup of all the outrageous things Trump said during CNN’s town hall

Donald Trump slammed his top rival in the 2024 contest for the Republican presidential nomination, saying that the media is supposedly referring to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as a “rank amateur”.

The former president spoke to The Messenger about his wide-ranging media strategy, while the governor has mostly spoken to friendly conservative outlets.

“I think the media has said he’s doing a terrible job and he doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Mr Trump claimed. “You know, the media has not been friendly to him. They’re saying that he’s a rank amateur. And you know, he started off fine, but then he hasn’t done very well. You look at the polls.”

While the governor has yet to announce his 2024 campaign, Mr Trump has repeatedly called Mr DeSantis “disloyal” for supposedly preparing to run against him after Mr Trump endorsed him in the 2018 GOP gubernatorial primary in the Sunshine State.

Mr Trump said he realised that Mr DeSantis was running against him “when he wouldn’t comment on whether he would run … when he said I had, ‘I have no comment.’ … having no comment means he’s going to run”.

The former president went on to claim that Mr DeSantis was a “dead man walking” in 2018.

“He’s very disloyal. He was a dead man walking. He was dead, dead as a doornail. And I revived him,” Mr Trump told The Messenger.

“I’m a loyal person. If that happened to me, I would never run against the guy that did that. He’s got plenty of years left. And I think if he runs, he’s gonna lose MAGA votes forever. That’s my opinion. And the MAGA votes are almost everything in the Republican Party, far bigger than you think,” the ex-president added.

Mr Trump said it was “too early” to say if he would endorse Mr DeSantis if he wins the GOP primary.

“So far, I’m not a fan of the way that he’s running. First of all, he shouldn’t be running right now because he hasn’t filed,” the required paperwork to be a candidate, Mr Trump said.

“The guy’s doing ads. He’s acting as a candidate, but he doesn’t have to play by the rules because he hasn’t filed, which is a total violation. I mean, this guy’s doing interviews as a candidate, but he hasn’t filed, which is really not appropriate,” he added.

A political action committee has been running ads supporting Mr DeSantis, but the governor hasn’t yet done so in a personal capacity.

During a recent trip to Iowa, Mr DeSantis said: “We must reject the culture of losing that has affected our party in recent years. The time for excuses is over. If we make the 2024 election a referendum on Joe Biden, his failures, and if we provide a positive alternative for the future of this country, Republicans will win across the board. If we do not do that, if we get distracted, if we focus the election on the past, then I think that Democrats are going to defeat us again.”

Mr Trump responded to those comments, saying: “I’m not at all caught up in the past. And second of all, I’m doing much better against Biden than he is in the polls, and I’m doing much better against him.

“I mean, I’m beating [Mr DeSantis] by 40 points in some polls, so he can talk about what he wants. And third of all, I did very well in the midterms,” Mr Trump claimed, despite several of the most high-profile candidates he endorsed losing their races.

“Ron’s not a winner because Ron without me wouldn’t have won. If I would have left it alone, he would have lost by 30 points or more,” Mr Trump claimed about Mr DeSantis.

Asked why Mr Trump is perceived to be struggling, Mr Trump said: “He’s got no personality. And I don’t think he’s got a lot of political skill.”

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