Trump says Ron DeSantis would be working in a pizza parlour if it wasn’t for him

‘Not friends. I didn’t know him well,’ says Trump

Namita Singh
Tuesday 28 March 2023 10:22 BST
Related video: Ron DeSantis rules out being Donald Trump’s running mate

Donald Trump has bragged about how his “great” endorsement for Ron DeSantis during the 2018 gubernatorial race had helped the Florida governor, without which he would be “working in a pizza parlour”.

Both Republican leaders have stepped up attacks on each other in the run up to the 2024 presidential election, though Mr DeSantis is yet to officially declare that he will run for president.

Mr Trump, who had earlier come up with a nickname for Mr DeSantis using his Italian-American heritage, gave a detailed account of how he allegedly helped the Florida governor.

Mr Trump’s fresh remarks in an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Monday night have come after Mr DeSantis’s own sass-infused comments about the investigation on the hush money payment made to Stormy Daniels.

“The question I’m asked the most about you of late is Ron DeSantis. This is the question – what happened? I thought they were friends,” said Hannity.

“Not friends. I didn’t know him well,” responded Mr Trump and elaborated on the evolution of his relationship with the Florida Republican.

He said Mr DeSantis had come to him “with tears in his eyes” asking for his endorsement against his then challenger Adam Putnam, who was serving as Florida’s commissioner of agriculture at the time and was ahead of him in the 2018 race.

“He was the secretary of agriculture which is actually the second highest position in Florida. It’s a big deal. Agriculture is very big and it goes back a 100 years and all of that. Very high official. And popular. Adam. Putnam. But I didn’t know him (sic),” said Mr Trump.

“And I knew Ron a little bit. I didn’t knew him very well but I knew him as somebody that defended me,” Mr Trump said, referring to his first impeachment trial, of which he was acquitted by the Senate on 5 February 2020.

Mr Trump said he was initially reluctant to endorse Mr DeSantis for the post and claimed the race would have tilted in Mr Putnam’s favour because he had “millions and millions of dollars and was way up in the polls”.

“I said, ‘Ron you are so far behind I can’t imagine that if you got George Washington’s endorsement combined with the great, great Abraham Lincoln. If you had their endorsements, I don’t think you could win Ron, but tell me about it. Go ahead’.”

But Mr DeSantis insisted on seeking his endorsement, claimed Mr Trump, adding that he was “desperate”.

“I said, ‘You write out what you’d like and let me see it.’ He wrote it out and I thought it was terrible so I changed it, made it great. I gave him a great endorsement.

“From the moment I pressed that button, he blew the guy away. The race was over.”

“I got him the nomination,” said the one time president. “By the way, he could have never gotten the nomination. He would be working in either a pizza parlour place or a law office right now. OK? And he wouldn’t be very happy.”

Mr DeSantis has also recently started talking about his differences from the former president.

In an interview with Piers Morgan last week, he said there is a lack of “daily drama” within his administration, an apparent dig at Mr Trump’s tenure at the White House.

When asked if “personal conduct in a leader matters”, Mr DeSantis responded by pointing to “people like our Founding Fathers”.

“It’s not saying that you don’t ever make a mistake in your personal life, but I think, what type of character are you bringing?” and said George Washington “set the standard” after surrendering his role as commander-in-chief after the Revolutionary War.

Mr DeSantis has ruled out being Mr Trump’s running mate in the upcoming presidential election.

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