Friction Is Heating Up Between Trump, DeSantis

The two GOP frontrunners have begun sniping at each other
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2022 11:48 AM CST
Trump-DeSantis Battle Begins Earlier Than Expected
In this Sept. 8, 2020, file photo, then-President Trump greets Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at West Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Friction between Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has surfaced of late, with Trump criticizing "gutless" politicians who won't reveal their vaccination status and DeSantis faulting Trump for too-aggressive COVID lockdowns while president. Now, multiple outlets are weighing in on what this means for the 2024 election:

  • In private: The New York Times reports that Trump has been complaining in private about DeSantis, particularly because the governor won't pledge to sit out the 2024 race if Trump runs. "I wonder why the guy won’t say he won’t run against me," the story by Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin quotes Trump as telling multiple (and anonymous) associates. In the former president's view, he is largely responsible for the governor's political rise and thus is owed loyalty.
  • 'Dull': Another story at Axios by Jonathan Swan has a similar feel, also reporting that Trump has been privately bad-mouthing the governor. "He says DeSantis has no personal charisma and has a dull personality," says an anonymous Trump associate. When discussing the 2024 race, Trump "usually gives DeSantis a pop in the nose in the middle of that type of conversation."

  • Context: Both stories frame the politics: Trump leads the 2024 GOP polls, but take him out of the equation and DeSantis is the frontrunner. And because Trump has been vigorously defending his push for vaccines as president, DeSantis sees an opportunity to appeal to those in the Trump base who oppose vaccines and strict COVID rules.
  • One view: "I did not think the inevitable Trump/DeSantis war would start this early," writes Allahpundit at the conservative Hot Air site. "Words can’t express how depressing it is that Trump being vocally pro-vaccine might become the most significant liability for him in a Republican primary but DeSantis rightly sees weakness there and is looking to fill that political space," reads the post. "Trump has handed him an excuse to draw a distinction between them in which DeSantis is more closely aligned with populist opinion than Trump is. I’m dying to see where this goes."
  • Public stances: The Times finds it notable that Trump has not gone after DeSantis by name publicly. (Trump did not mention DeSantis in his "gutless" criticism, though analysts say he was clearly referring to the governor.) As for DeSantis, in the same interview in which he criticized Trump's lockdowns, he disputed the notion of a feud, notes Breitbart. "I think this is what the media does," he said. "You cannot fall for the bait. You know what they’re trying to do, so just don’t take it. Just keep on keeping on. We need everybody united for a big red wave in 2022."
(More Donald Trump stories.)

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