NEW YORK CITY — Former President Donald Trump tee’d off on Governor Ron DeSantis in an interview Monday, claiming DeSantis begged him for help against Republican Adam Putnam in Florida’s 2018 gubernatorial primary.
“So what happened with Ron is the following: he came to see me, he was getting killed, he was being crushed [against] Adam Putnam. It was over,” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “Ron came to see me, tears in his eyes. He said, ‘I need you to do me a big favor… Would you endorse me? […] I need your endorsement.’”
Trump continued: “I said, ‘Ron, you’re so far behind, I can’t imagine that if you got George Washington’s endorsement, combined with the great Abraham Lincoln – if you had their endorsements I don’t think you could win, but […] let’s give it a shot, Ron.’ He was desperate.”
Trump claimed that Putnam – Florida’s agriculture commissioner at the time – was leading in the polls and expected to win by “30 points.”
“I have many people that I know that worked for Adam Putnam they said it was like – I hate to use this expression – it was like a nuclear weapon went off when you endorsed [DeSantis], because they considered the race to be over,” he said. “They had the race.”
Continuing the nuclear bomb analogy, Trump added: “From the moment I pressed that button, he blew that guy away. The race was over.”
“I got him the nomination. By the way, [he] could never have gotten the nomination,” Trump said. “He would be working in either a pizza parlor place or a law office right now, ok? And he wouldn’t be very happy.”
TURNING UP THE HEAT
Trump’s verbal jabs at DeSantis – likely his most formidable opponent in 2024 – are becoming more frequent.
The former president has taken numerous shots at DeSantis since the governor won reelection by a historic margin in November. Two weeks ago, Trump admittedly that he “probably” regrets endorsing DeSantis and suggested the governor’s career would have taken a different path if he hadn’t done so.
“Remember this, if it weren’t for me, Ron DeSanctimonious would right now be working probably at a law firm or maybe a Pizza Hut I don’t know,” Trump told reporters.
Last week, he claimed that the governor is to blame for major property insurance problems plaguing the state, and that Florida was “among the worst” states in the U.S. for education, crime and affordability.
Earlier this month, a pro-Trump super PAC accused the governor of breaking election laws. Additionally, Politico reported that his supporters are preparing an extensive opposition file to use against DeSantis.
It’s unclear whether the attacks are resonating with Trump’s base. Over the weekend, his shots at the governor failed to draw many cheers from the otherwise raucous crowd at a rally in Texas.