As surrogates to former President Donald Trump continued calls for his leading rival to step down, infighting over falling short of full character assassination escalated to threats of career ruin connected to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“He’s done and if you keep kissing his a**, so are you.”
Political campaign narratives meant to tarnish DeSantis’ efforts at securing the 2024 Republican presidential nomination against Trump and a field of primary opponents got a touch carried away Friday for Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz. The outspoken supporter of the president’s third run at the White House actually came to the defense of his governor, earning himself some heat from self-described “Trump-loyalist” Roger Stone.
“This is nonsense. DeSantis will return to Florida as a popular, successful governor with two years of runway to cement a legacy of accomplishment in America’s third largest (and best) state,” the congressman said in reaction to another surrogate’s smear-spreading of the governor.
On X, Stone, who limits who can reply to his posts, fired back, “Wrong @MattGaetz .You created this monster who has proven to be a backstabbing weasel and ingrate .He’s done and if you keep kissing his a**, so are you.”
— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) September 23, 2023
The original remark that sparked Gaetz’s defense of DeSantis came from a third Trump supporter, one-time executive director of President Donald Trump’s National Diversity Coalition, Bruce Levell, who shared an article from Politico claiming “DeSantis is losing his clout in Florida.”
“Hey @RonDesantis,do you remember when I was sitting next to you in Orlando when President Trump announced his run for a 2nd term? I told you that you’re doing great and have a bright future,” read the post linking to the story stemming from claims of lawmakers, lobbyists and political consultants.
The piece from Politico read of DeSantis who won re-election in Nov. 2022 with a nearly 20 point spread over his Democrat challenger, once governor and former Rep. Charlie Crist, “His standing at home may depend on how long he slogs forward in the presidential campaign — and how he will manage his exit from the race if he eventually drops out.”
With the Trump campaign leaning heavily on the idea that falling short of vociferous, outspoken support of the president’s bid at the White House was somehow disloyal, the apparent defense of DeSantis’ reputation from Gaetz came as rumors have begun of his own possible future bid for the executive spot in The Sunshine State.
However, the congressman had denied those suggestions at the onset of speculation and had told NBC News, “The NBC story is overblown clickbait,” and that while he was being encouraged to run, “My sole mission right now is to kill the Donalds CR that funds Ukraine, Jack Smith, and a weaponized Biden government.”
— BPR (@BIZPACReview) September 22, 2023
As previously reported, in July the Florida lawmaker echoed sentiments from Trump that DeSantis should drop out of the race and endorse the GOP frontrunner while challenging the governor’s own view of how he had secured the job in Tallahassee in 2018.
“Ron DeSantis trailed fellow Republican Adam Putnam by 20 points or more at the beginning of his initial campaign for Florida governor,” Gaetz said on NewsmaxTV as a guest host for “Rob Schmitt Tonight.”
“When he got President Trump’s endorsement, which I confess, I helped DeSantis secure, his polling rose faster than the price of Taylor Swift concert tickets,” he quipped before going on to add, “In his book, DeSantis claims that it was really his debate performances that fueled his meteoric rise. I coached DeSantis for all of those debates, and you know what was the principle point we sought to emphasize? That DeSantis could be trusted to back Trump, and the other guy couldn’t.”
Reactions were as split as the surrogates were on this debate.
The sooner DeSantis drops out of the Presidential race and supports Trump as the Nominee, the better.
— Robin Valencia (@rvalen81) September 23, 2023
Wrong. DeSantis will be going to the White House and you will be primaried and lose.
— I Support Ron DeSantis (@SupportDeSantis) September 23, 2023
Normally, I agree with you on most topics, but I’m gonna take a hard pass on this one. DeSantis is not the man I once thought he was, and I think there’s a lot of people, especially in FL who feel the same.
— Saving America (@SavingAmerica4U) September 23, 2023
Yeah this is nonsense. Ron will continue to be a successful governor and has the respect of our people here in Florida.
— SBIR Hunter (@0xStryker) September 23, 2023
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