". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Don v. Ron: Tensions Mount Between 2024’s Biggest Players

February 24, 2023

After two years of life under President Joe Biden, it’s no secret that Republicans are chomping at the bit to determine who will represent the party on the 2024 stage. Despite several candidates having already declared their presidential bid, however, there remains no greater challenger to former President Donald Trump than the governor from Florida, who has yet to confirm whether he has presidential aspirations for 2024. In a recent interview, Governor Ron DeSantis responded to a reporter asking whether he will run for president with a chuckle, saying, “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

Despite Governor DeSantis’s coy tactics, many Republicans are eager to see him announce his candidacy later in 2023 — with the notable exception of Donald Trump. The former president has shown open hostility to DeSantis in recent months. In a recent interview with his former attorney, Jenna Ellis, Trump took credit for DeSantis’s 2018 gubernatorial victory, stating, “I just let people know, because I believe in loyalty, that he was at like 3%, he was dead in politics, he was never going to be in office. He was getting ready to leave the race, and he came over and asked whether or not it would be possible for me to endorse him. For whatever reason, I did endorse him.”

Trump went on to describe DeSantis as “disloyal” for considering a presidential run in 2024. He has similarly expressed frustration with new contender Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during his administration, for her disloyalty, saying, “Nikki has to follow her heart, not her honor. She should definitely run!” alongside a video clip of Haley saying she would not run for president against her former boss.

Perhaps Trump’s fears about his potential Florida rival are well-founded. A new February survey of Michigan Republican primary voters showed that, when offered only DeSantis and Trump, 47% chose DeSantis, 42% chose Trump, and 11% were unsure. The survey highlights, “This result is notable given Trump’s surprise victory there in 2016 and his past strength throughout the Midwest and Rust Belt states. These results are consistent with state polls throughout the country that show DeSantis leading or competitive with Trump.”

Interestingly, the same survey revealed that, while DeSantis beats Trump by 10 points among male voters, Trump beats DeSantis by three points among female voters. Still, in every population except for women, DeSantis demonstrated a significant lead.

The poll also evaluated the former president’s use of the derogatory nickname “Ron DeSanctimonious” to describe DeSantis. According to the survey, 68% of respondents had never heard of the nickname. More importantly, only 5% of respondents said that it made them think more poorly of the Florida governor — and 45% said it made them think more poorly of Trump. The use of nicknames has been a trademark of Trump’s campaigns in the past, with other notable victims including Marco Rubio (“Little Marco”), Ted Cruz (“Lyin’ Ted”), and Kim Jong Un (“Little Rocket Man”).

Trump’s penchant for nicknames appears to be dissuading more than just voters from supporting him — several of Trump’s former key donors are eyeing up DeSantis as their candidate of choice. “The name calling has turned a lot of people off. Let me tell you, we don’t like that,” said Don Tapia, former Trump U.S. ambassador to Jamaica who previously donated hundreds of thousands to the Trump campaign. Given that several former Trump backers donated extensively to the DeSantis gubernatorial reelection campaign in 2022, it is possible that loyalties will further shift if DeSantis announces a presidential bid.

“Many Americans want to know where the candidates stand on the issues,” Matt Carpenter, director of FRC Action, told The Washington Stand. “They want to know what each candidate will do to solve the cost of living crisis, stop the flow of illegal immigrants across the border, protect children from gender ideology in the class room, protect unborn children from the horrors of abortion, and more. Before we can examine the candidates’ records and have some debates, we should expect more of this sort of maneuvering behind the scenes.”