Trump getting the hint about attacking DeSantis?

Donald Trump kicked off his 2024 campaign for the Republican nomination for president on Saturday in Waco, Texas. Thousands of Trump supporters came to the event, but this isn’t 2015 and many Trump voters have grown tired of his tendency to pepper his campaign speeches heavily with criticism for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. It must have come as a surprise to Trump when he went into a long story that makes DeSantis look weak and needy and the crowd was silent and failed to egg him on.

It is being reported that few people in the audience reacted to Trump’s version of a story that has him endorsing Ron DeSantis for governor in his first gubernatorial campaign after DeSantis came to him for an endorsement. Trump claims DeSantis was crying and begging for an endorsement. The audience didn’t respond as they did when Trump criticized others, like the media, so he quickly changed course and began boasting that he is ahead in all the national polls for the Republican nomination.

“So, he came, and he really wanted [my endorsement]. I said, ‘You can’t win, can you? How do you – can [you] win?'” Trump said, recalling the alleged conversation with DeSantis. “‘Sir, if you endorse me, I’ll win. Please, please, sir, endorse me,'” Trump continued as he acted out a crying, begging voice.

“He gets the nomination because of you. He wins the election because of you. Two years later, the fake … is up there saying, ‘Will you run against the president? Will you run?’ And he says, ‘I have no comment,’” Trump said after arguing that DeSantis was virtually dead in the race before his endorsement.

Trump went after DeSantis for his handling of COVID-19, arguing that other states did not shut down as Florida did at the beginning of the pandemic, and blasted the Florida governor’s record of attempting to slash Social Security benefits while a member of Congress.

Trump must think his rants against DeSantis make him look like a power broker. It makes him look nervous and desperate to eliminate his competition. In this case, DeSantis hasn’t even declared his candidacy. Trump’s nonsensical claims about DeSantis can easily be fact-checked. The claim that DeSantis bungled Florida’s COVID-19 response is particularly odd since DeSantis was targeted by Democrats and the media for his insistence on leaving the state open and free of federal mandates.

He went on to say that Florida was a successful state long before DeSantis was governor. This is an attempt to downplay how popular and successful DeSantis is in Florida. He just won re-election by 20 points against former Governor Charlie Crist, who Trump praised for his record as governor, by the way. Geez. What a mess this part of his speech was. Trump can lie all he wants but the fact is that DeSantis turned Florida from a purple state to a ruby-red state, even winning traditionally Democrat strongholds like Dade County.

We’ll see if Trump takes the hint. Remember, this is an audience of Trump supporters in Texas, a state that has been good to Trump. Trump received more financial support from Texas donors than from any other state. Now, though, some big donors are sitting on the sidelines, waiting to see what DeSantis is going to do.

Trump will need to expand his voter base to beat Biden in 2024. He will not do that if he continues to use his rallies as a chance to rant about Ron DeSantis and his lack of loyalty to Trump. He won’t bring a single new voter to his campaign if he continues to make every rally a time of talking about DA Bragg’s prosecution of his alleged pay-off to Stormy Daniels. Most people agree that bringing an indictment against Trump for that is politicizing the legal system against a former president that he does not like or want to run for in 2024.

Trump is ahead in national polls, and that is true. But, again, DeSantis hasn’t even declared himself a candidate. National polls mean very little, especially at his early point in the presidential primary season. Some polls may be closer than are being reported, too.

Trump is not attacking Nikki Haley. Other Republicans may get in the primary race – maybe Senator Tim Scott or former Vice President Mike Pence. The only potential candidate with the possibility of beating Trump is DeSantis. Voters might be ready for a change. If DeSantis gets into the race, it’s going to be a brutal primary. It will be interesting to see how other audiences react to Trump’s lies and personal attacks on DeSantis. Will they remain silent, too?

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