With just days left before Americans cast their votes in what is arguably the most consequential midterm elections in modern American history, former President Donald Trump chose to zing one of the strongest, most popular leaders the GOP has churned out in recent memory: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
That he did it is as undeniable as it is confusing for his legion of supporters. Why he did it is a matter of some debate.
Speaking in the battleground state of Pennsylvania at a rally that was meant to unite Republicans and “Save America,” Trump was reviewing poll numbers on big screens, and, when he got to the wildly popular governor’s name, he tossed out a new nickname some saw as petty: “Ron DeSanctimonious.”
The jab even caught the attention of actor James Woods, who has long been a conservative voice of sanity and support for 45.
“The great Ronald Reagan said that Republicans should never disparage each other,” Woods tweeted. “This was not a good moment.”
The great Ronald Reagan said that Republicans should never disparage each other. This was not a good moment. pic.twitter.com/jAnnH5UTjf
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) November 6, 2022
But is it an ego-driven misstep that could cost Trump bigly?
While the former President has been touring the country with the same stories about “Fake News,” “They stole 2020,” and “They’re out to get me,” DeSantis has been actively fighting against the things that affect everyday Floridians in a real and tangible way.
He stood up against Dr. Anthony Fauci and Trump’s “Warp Speed” vaccine push and freed his state from authoritarian mandates.
He went toe to toe with Disney while fighting for the rights of parents to be involved in their children’s education.
He’s been a champion of small businesses and working people.
In many ways, Ron DeSantis has been the governor conservatives huddled together in states like California and New York wish they had.
For many, he is the future of the Republican party, and Trump’s swipe at his fellow Floridian said more about his own political ambitions than it did about the leadership DeSantis has boldly shown.
Rather than energize his base, Trump’s careless comment threatens to drive a wedge straight through it, at a time when, more than ever, they need to stand together — a fact the media is all too happy to point out.
“Trump’s attacks on DeSantis are going to have a boomerang effect,” tweeted Joe Concha of The Hill. “Almost all Trump supporters are big fans of the Florida governor and agree with his policies and approach in running Florida. This comes just 3 days before an election and reflects poorly on the former president.”
Trump’s attacks on DeSantis are going to have a boomerang effect. Almost all Trump supporters are big fans of the Florida governor and agree with his policies and approach in running Florida. This comes just 3 days before an election and reflects poorly on the former president. https://t.co/hXOWtjpG3Q
— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) November 6, 2022
Die-hard Trumpers — the ones who would cheerfully follow him off a cliff — insist DeSantis is secretly working behind Trump’s back to defeat the MAGA movement.
I’ve received at least a half dozen calls from GOP donors who have told me the contents of their conversations AND sitting members of Congress have confirmed it.@GOPLeader Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan have hatched a plan to defeat MAGA in 2024 and Ron DeSantis is the stool.
— Rich Baris "The People's Pundit" (@Peoples_Pundit) November 6, 2022
Even if this is true — and we are not saying it is or it isn’t — three days before the midterm elections, when every red vote matters, is not the time to duke it out with the one person who may or may not challenge you two years from now.
Not when you’re trying to salvage a nation from what is widely seen as utter destruction.
The overly-smug slap to DeSantis may prove to be a wake-up call for Trump, who is routinely booed by his own base whenever he mentions the COVID-19 vaccines.
Following the comment, the conservative-leaning “alternative news source,” Breaking 911, posted a poll, and, with more than 48,000 votes and 16 hours left to go, the results thus far are telling, even for Twitter.
“At his rally in PA tonight, Trump referred to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as ‘Ron DeSanctimonious,'” the outlet tweeted. “If elections were today, who would you vote for?”
At the time of this writing, more than 60% of respondents are backing DeSantis.
At his rally in PA tonight, Trump referred to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as "Ron DeSanctimonious". If elections were today, who would you vote for?
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) November 6, 2022
Naturally, this is far from a scientific survey. But if comments from conservative Twitter users are any indication, Trump should rethink his approach.
As one user put it, “It’s not 2015 anymore. What worked for him then won’t work in 2024. It’s a different time.”
It’s not 2015 anymore. What worked for him then won’t work in 2024. It’s a different time.
— (@July041776) November 6, 2022
I've already chosen. Trump was played, thwarted and betrayed by the DC swamp. DeSantis has excellent political skills and shown that he knows how to use the system to achieve solid wins. It's gotta be #RonDeSantis2024
— Macky Mega MAGA Republican Messer (@MesserartMacky) November 6, 2022
Took my trump 2024 flag down and threw it away
— Brian Waddington (@Waddingt11Brian) November 6, 2022
It was a HORRIBLE moment.
As someone who’s supported Trump from the moment he descended the escalator, tonight was his worst moment for me.
No this wont affect DeSantis win on Tuesday.
Yes Ill still vote for Trump should he be our nominee.
But… what TF was that?!
— Charles Weber – AKA “THE Jew from Boca” (@CWBOCA) November 6, 2022
I just wish Trump wouldn’t act so childish and instead use non divisive language and explain why he doesn’t like him. It’s just exhausting and gives the left more material to keep the hate stirred.
— JJensen (@Robynmonty) November 6, 2022
Trump should be careful he will get a large push back from many conservatives. Including me and I supported Trump Bigly…… it’s not about him right now …..not happy, Desantis brightens Conservative and Americas future
— neil h (@A2protectsA1) November 6, 2022
2 days before the midterms and tons of crappy dems he could trash and he chooses to insult Desantis?
— FF PARAMEDIC 14 (@ParamedicFOURT1) November 6, 2022
He’s not the same guy. He let his ego & pride get the best of him. Listening to him tell Candace that the vaccine is one of the greatest achievements of mankind should have been a wake up call. He chose Big Pharma biz over the truth.
Sucks. But, is what it is. Why lie about it?
— An0maly (@LegendaryEnergy) November 6, 2022
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