Former President Donald Trump Says Attacks on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are Personal, Calls Him ‘Disloyal’ for Running Against Him: ‘I Got Him Elected’

Former President Donald Trump suggested that his attacks against his GOP challenger for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are personal because he finds the governor “very disloyal” after DeSantis joined the race after Trump helped him get elected in Florida. 

Trump, who is battling DeSantis for the Republican presidential nomination, was discussing the Covid response of several GOP governors when he invoked his nickname for the governor, “Ron DeSanctimonious,” during the second part of an hour-long interview that aired Tuesday on “Special Report.” 

“Why do you use that name?” questioned host Bret Baier.

“I got him elected,” replied Trump. “And I thought it was very disloyal when he said, ‘Yes, I’d run.’ I got him past two races.”

“I’m a big loyalist,” continued Trump. “Some people right here in this room tell me, ‘Sir, don’t worry about loyalty; it doesn’t mean anything in politics.’ I said, to me, it does. I got the guy elected.”

Trump maintains DeSantis was “dead politically” before he endorsed him in 2017 for Florida governor

“I got the guy elected. He came to see me, let’s say, weeping because he was dead. He was getting out of the race. He was looking for jobs already, probably at law firms or wherever he is going to look. He was totally dead. He ran a horrible campaign…it was like a wipeout. The election was going to be very soon. I said you are dead. If George Washington endorsed, you are not going to win,” Trump said to Baier. 

The former president said he decided to “give it a shot” and endorsed DeSantis on Twitter. At the time, he called DeSantis a “brilliant young leader” who “loves our country and is a true leader.”

“It was like a bomb went off,” recalled Trump. “As soon as I endorsed him, he won the primary. It was over. He won by a landslide.”

Trump went on to headline three rallies for DeSantis leading up to the gubernatorial election and added that he considered it a blatant betrayal when he later heard DeSantis was considering joining the race for the 2024 GOP nomination, where Trump is currently the strong frontrunner. 

“Three years later, they asked him are you going to run against the president? He said I have no comment. I said no comment? No comment means he’s going to run. I said this guy is going to run! And he was dead as a doorknob. I didn’t help him 90%. I helped him 100%. This guy was dead politically for him to then say I’m going to run against the guy that got me in office? I didn’t need that,” said Trump.

Asked whether he believes DeSantis to be the most threatening Republican challenger, Trump said, “Well, he is the number two right now, yeah,”

The former president pointed to polls that show him holding a substantial lead over DeSantis before adding, “He could be replaced. The way he is going right now. He is dropping like a rock. He could be number three and number four, and you won’t ever hear me talking about him again,” said Trump.

DeSantis and Trump have been engaged in an increasingly bitter war of words as they continue to battle for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. Since he declared his candidacy for president in May, DeSantis has stepped up his counterattacks against Trump, who has continued to blast his main Republican rival with attacks on his record.