Trump Aims to Define the Narrative Early in Presidential Race, DeSantis Keeps Focus on Florida

A brewing rivalry between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump came to a head days before the November midterm elections.

Trump, who officially announced his Presidential bid last week, fired the first shot after he called DeSantis’ Ron DeSanctimonious’ at a rally in Pennsylvania less than a week before the midterms.

Trump was expected to announce his candidacy early, hyping the announcement shortly before the midterms.

While Trump made the highly anticipated decision to announce his run early, other potential candidates, including DeSantis, are not expected to do so.

DeSantis has been repeatedly asked when and if he will run for President in 2024. His opponent in the Governor’s election, Democratic nominee Charlie Crist, pressed him on the issue during their debate.

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DeSantis deferred on the issue, saying that the only “worn out, old donkey” he was looking to “put out to pasture” was Crist.

Political insiders believe that Trump was quick to declare his candidacy so that he would have a chance to set the narrative early and undermine other potential candidates.

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“In Florida, everyone kind of knows and has a sense of what Ron DeSantis has done,” one Florida Republican operative said. “The MAGA donors know what Ron DeSantis has done; the activists know what he’s done. But a lot of voters don’t. And Trump recognizes he has a chance to define DeSantis before DeSantis has a chance to get out and tell his story.”

According to the Washington Post, Trump’s announcement came about six months earlier than the median of one year and six months for Presidential candidates.

 

Trump has already clarified that he would prefer Governor DeSantis to step aside in the 2024 Presidential race. He expressed frustration towards DeSantis for demurring on the question last week.

“The Fake News asks him if he’s going to run if President Trump runs, and he says, ‘I’m only focused on the Governor’s race; I’m not looking into the future,'” Trump said. “Well, in terms of loyalty and class, that’s really not the right answer.”

While some political strategists believe that Trump entering campaign mode early will help him, others doubt that attacking DeSantis, who also has conservative bonafides on the issues, will work in the former President’s favor.

“So far, not doing anything has worked. The more Trump attacks DeSantis, the worse he looks,” said Keith Naughton, a veteran Republican strategist. “If he criticizes DeSantis because DeSantis has a similar issue profile, he can only attack him on personal grounds and loyalty.”

DeSantis has mostly refrained from hitting back against Trump. In his only public response to Trump’s comments, he told him to “check the scoreboard” in the aftermath of the midterms.

“At the end of the day, I would just tell people to go check out the scoreboard from last Tuesday night,” he said at a news conference in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., on Tuesday.


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