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Trump says he will handle DeSantis candidacy 'the way I handle things'

By Sarah May
|
January 18, 2023

As speculation continues to mount about possible entrants into the 2024 presidential field, former President Donald Trump on Monday fired a rhetorical shot across the bow at potential rival Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, as The Hill reports.

In a podcast interview with David Brody, Trump was asked whether it was a “bad move” for DeSantis to announce a run for the White House, and the former commander in chief somewhat cryptically replied, “[w]e'll handle that the way I handle things.”

2024 speculation heats up

An early entrant into the 2024 presidential stakes, Trump declared his candidacy back in November and is still considered by many to be the front-runner for the Republican Party nod.

However, fresh off his landslide re-election victory in the midterm cycle, DeSantis is increasingly viewed as a viable alternative for those weary of a putative rematch between Trump and President Joe Biden.

Indeed, not long after he won another term as governor of the Sunshine State, Fox News reported that DeSantis huddled with high-dollar donors not just to celebrate the massive victory, but also to discuss what opportunities the road ahead may hold.

Further fueling talk of an impending presidential run is the fact that DeSantis is about to release a book outlining his career in public service to date, entitled, The Courage to Be Free: Florida's Blueprint for America's Revival, something that appears designed to elevate his position in the national consciousness.

Trump remains confident

During his chat with Brody this week, Trump unabashedly claimed credit for DeSantis' relatively newfound prominence, pointing to his 2018 endorsement in the Republican gubernatorial primary that year, as Fox News noted.

“I got him elected, pure and simple, Trump declared, also underscoring the value of his trademark rally events in boosting DeSantis' fortunes at the time.

Their previous alliance aside, Trump made no bones about the way he sees the current state of play, saying, “So, now I hear he might want to run against me, so we'll handle that the way I handle things.”

Though he did not provide specifics on what that might mean, Trump has already taken a few public shots at the governor, labeling him “Ron DeSanctimonious” back in November, as the Orlando Sentinel noted, and suggesting that he is disloyal for even entertaining the possibility of a 2024 run.

Electoral landscape unclear

Further complicating matters in the putative Trump—DeSantis rivalry ahead of 2024 are the divergent poll results gleaned from voters asked to weigh in on their preferred pick for the Republican nomination.

For instance, The Hill reported this week that a Morning Consult poll found that Trump currently enjoys a 17-point lead over DeSantis in a hypothetical Republican primary contest.

DeSantis did, however, come in second in a pool of potential candidates that also included former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Ted Cruz, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, and former Rep. Liz Cheney.

Those results stand in contrast to recent polling suggesting the opposite result, including a Yahoo News-YouGov survey that put DeSantis ahead of Trump by a 47-42 margin and a Vanderbilt University poll giving the governor a 54-41 lead over the former president.

Beating Biden

Though President Joe Biden has given strong signals that he does intend to seek a second term, he has yet to formally launch a 2024 campaign, but if he does, Republican nomination battles may ultimately turn on which candidate GOP voters believe stands the best chance at beating the octogenarian Democrat.

While much can happen between now and November of 2024, and Biden's escalating classified documents scandal could still throw a serious wrench into his plans, a poll released last week suggests that the current commander in chief stands a much better chance of success against one of the two aforementioned Republicans, as the New York Post notes.

A survey from WPA Intelligence found that as of now, Biden would top Trump by eight percentage points if the two were to engage in another face-off, but would lose to DeSantis by three, results that certainly provide party elites with some real food for thought, even at this early stage.

Regardless of how things continue to shake out in terms of new entrants into the 2024 candidate pool, based on Trump's tone this week, it appears he will be playing to win, even if that means having to “handle” former allies to do it.