Well, we knew this was coming, didn’t we? Only days before the midterm elections, former President Donald Trump decided to take a swipe at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a rally in Pennsylvania.
While addressing the crowd, Trump cited polling showing he remains the frontrunner when it comes to winning the GOP nomination for president in 2024. While reading off the names included in the survey, he referred to the governor as “Ron DeSanctimonious.”
“We’re winning big in the Republican Party for the nomination like nobody’s ever seen before. There it is, Trump at 71 percent, Ron DeSanctimonious at 10 percent,” Trump said. “Mike Pence at seven, oh, Mike is doing better than I thought. Liz Cheney there’s no way she’s at four percent. There’s no way. There’s no way. But we’re at 71 to 10 to seven to four.”
The former president’s jab at DeSantis made headlines in the activist media, which has been salivating at the opportunity to pit the two men against one another. Next to Trump, the governor is the base’s favorite to possibly go up against Democrats for the White House in the next election.
But what was noteworthy about this affair was the response coming from conservative influencers, many of whom took issue with Trump’s remark.
Rod Dreher, a senior editor at The American Conservative, tweeted:
What an idiot. DeSantis is a far more effective leader of the Right than Trump was, if, that is, you expect a leader to get a lot done, rather than just talking about it and owning the libs.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) seemed to favor DeSantis in this little dustup. “Or… Ron De…SaidNoToFauci… that’s another angle… #StandUpForAmerica,” he tweeted.
Here are some other responses from folks on the right:
Former Pres. Trump refers to Florida Gov. DeSantis as “Ron Desanctimonious.”
Probably not the united messaging the GOP wants 3 days before the midterm elections.
— Alex Salvi (@alexsalvinews) November 6, 2022
— Josh Holmes (@HolmesJosh) November 6, 2022
Calling it now, DeSantis is going to run, and he's going to beat Trump badly
This is just weak https://t.co/fsOM2ouvSN
— Will Chamberlain (@willchamberlain) November 6, 2022
What an idiot. DeSantis is a far more effective leader of the Right than Trump was, if, that is, you expect a leader to get a lot done, rather than just talking about it and owning the libs. https://t.co/HNIFFGx6mT
— Rod Dreher (@roddreher) November 6, 2022
During a rally the next day in Florida, Trump brought up DeSantis again, but this time, to encourage voters to re-elect him. “You are going to re-elect Ron DeSantis as your governor of your state,” he said.
To be fair, not everyone was on the governor’s side. Indeed, some have expressed concerns that he has been too cozy with the establishment GOP. Pollster Rich Baris asserted that the NeverTrump movement is pushing to have DeSantis challenge the former president in the primaries:
I’ll tell everyone what it was right now, though it’s not the smartest fight for REPs to have before a midterm.
When Ron DeSantis is chatting with @kevinomccarthy and Team Paul Ryan behind the back of the man who made him the governor of Florida, it was bound to happen.
Folks, I don’t really care for whom you vote. But don’t delude yourselves into pretending it isn’t #NeverTrump behind the push for Ron DeSantis to fracture the party in a primary if and when Trump obviously runs.
It most definitely is them to include McCarthy and McConnell.
— Rich Baris "The People's Pundit" (@Peoples_Pundit) November 6, 2022
Others have circulated a screenshot on Twitter, making it appear as if Jeb Bush is funding DeSantis’ campaign. However, they cut off the date on the screenshot showing that the contribution was made when he was running against Andrew Gillum to get elected in 2018.
— max (@MaxNordau) November 6, 2022
But the million-dollar question is: Did Trump shoot himself in the foot by going after DeSantis two days before the midterm elections?
He did not exactly endear himself further to his base by calling out a conservative leader who has become a darling among Republican voters. Even those who support Trump were a bit put off by the remark, which many deemed to be unnecessary.
However, this is not as big of a deal as the activist media would want us to believe. In fact, it may just be a huge bowl full of nothing – especially if DeSantis decides not to challenge the former president, which is certainly possible. The governor might just decide it would be more prudent to bide his time, serve another term as governor, and then seek the presidency in 2028.
Nevertheless, it does reveal that there is a significant percentage of right-leaning voters who like Trump, but would still prefer to see a younger leader take up the mantle. It appears that either way, DeSantis will get his chance to contend for the White House sooner or later.