As the 2024 GOP primary begins, former President Donald Trump is the clear front-runner for the nomination, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in a distant-but-significant second place. Trump is already attacking DeSantis, and though the undeclared candidate usually does not respond, right-wing media supporters of each man are helping to raise the temperature.
“Ron DeSantis ... has no respect for the people who elect him.”
Much like in the 2016 Republican primary, Trump has already established himself as the fighting candidate among the 2024 field, and his media allies are equally as pugilistic. Longtime right-wing commentator Dick Morris told Newsmax that whether or not DeSantis declares his candidacy for president “depends on his capacity for suicide.”
“I don’t think he can win, and I think that in particular, he should not run when he has this position of cutting Social Security and Medicare in his past,” Morris said, referring to DeSantis’ support for catastrophic cuts to both programs over a decade ago. “They will literally come back to haunt him.”
Other Trump allies have focused on critiquing coverage hailing DeSantis for his battle with Disney and its self-governing district, alleging that DeSantis’ great victory is essentially a hoax. On OAN’s Real America, GOP strategist Alex Bruesewitz mocked people who thought “oh my gosh, Ron DeSantis is taking it to Disney and he’s winning,” because “at the end of the day, he didn’t win anything.”
“Disney is still woke. Disney is still tax-exempt. Disney still has many foreign workers instead of American and Floridian workers that they're importing,” he complained. “Disney is doing better than ever before, and there's absolutely nothing that Ron DeSantis should be proud of.” While it is not true that Disney was or is fully tax-exempt, under the new rules the company will keep nearly all of the unusual perks, including a special tax status, that allowed Walt Disney World to effectively self-govern.
After host Dan Ball complained that DeSantis is putting donors on the district’s board, Bruesewitz alleged that the governor “is basically bought and paid for by his special interest groups and his big money donors, and he’s only beholden to them and he’s not beholden to the people who elect him. And he has no respect for the people who elect him.”
On another night, Ball effectively called DeSantis a liar. “Ronnie should remember his promise to the Floridians,” Ball began, “which was, I will be your governor for four years. I’m running to be your governor, not to run for president. So I’d like to see politicians keep their promise and their word.” Ball went on to say that “Ron can run in ‘28,” echoing a long-held OAN opinion that DeSantis should wait his turn for the presidency.
OAN’s attempts to broadly cast DeSantis as swamp-curious may also be paying off. Discussing “the deep state” and “the police state,” right-wing radio host Andrea Kaye told a Newsmax panel that DeSantis has “been a little too silent on those issues for me, and he's yet to prove himself as somebody who’s going to go in and dismantle and take out the deep state, and take on the corruption, like the Biden crime family.”
Kaye also criticized “some missteps,” namely an incident at one of DeSantis’ book signings where he had law enforcement tell “some people wearing Trump gear … they’re not allowed to come in.” The incident in question appears to have been a stunt organized by failed far-right congressional candidate Laura Loomer — one which was also picked up by OAN.
“It kind of got under my skin. … Watch how Ron treated them,” Ball said before airing a video of police telling the Trump supporters they had to leave. “The people are waking up,” Bruesewitz replied. “They’re recognizing who this guy is. … The entire swamp is lining up behind Ron DeSantis, one by one by one. And then he also uses swamp tactics; he kicks people out of events. He censors people.”
“This isn’t going to bode well for America First folks,” Ball warned.
“The simple truth is Trump lost the last election, and DeSantis destroyed his opponent here in Florida.”
Trumpworld and its media allies may already be on the attack against DeSantis, and the governor is purportedly focused on Florida right now, but some of DeSantis’ friends in right-wing media have begun to fire back, sometimes in a way that could strike at the core of Trump’s ego: calling him a loser.
“The simple truth is Trump lost the last election, and DeSantis destroyed his opponent here in Florida,” said right-wing commentator Dave Rubin. Although he gave “Trump credit for helping DeSantis get over the line,” Rubin stressed that DeSantis went from winning by 30,000 votes in 2018 to winning by 1.5 million in 2022. “Mathematically, he basically 50 x’d his popularity,” in stark contrast to Trump’s performance in his second election.
On Twitter, Rubin has complained that “people just want competency not this petty drivel” like the Trump-bestowed nickname “Ron DeSanctimonious,” and he warned Trump that DeSantis “has done everything a Republican could ask for. Level up if you want this, Donnie!”
On TheBlaze, founder Glenn Beck criticized Trump's increasingly nonsensical attacks on DeSantis. Beck highlighted a video of Trump suggesting that DeSantis rode the coattails of former Gov. Charlie Crist, who became a Democrat in 2012 and is now widely disliked in GOP circles -- and lost the 2022 election to DeSantis by nearly 20 points.
GLENN BECK (HOST): I pray Donald Trump will stop doing this. Please, we love you, Mr. President. We also love Ron DeSantis. We love -- you know, I love Vivek Ramaswamy. I want somebody we can vote for. And maybe that's you. Maybe that's not you. I don't know what the American people are going to -- but I'll support you. Please stop taking Ron DeSantis apart, and especially in the way you're doing it.
Come on. Please don’t do this. Please don’t do this. Charlie Crist, really? Really?
Beck’s Blaze colleague and longtime conspiracy theorist Steve Deace has said that he is “a DeSantis guy,” though he noted that Trump could be unbeatable if he “would come to Jesus on the jab.” Calling Operation Warp Speed one of the “dumbest and most immoral” management decisions in U.S. history, Deace attacked people who still support Trump for their vaccine foolishness: “There are people in this audience who got poisoned by Operation Warp Speed and just can't wait to do the time warp again because Cheeto Jesus saves.”
Deace then launched into a Star Wars allegory, with COVID-19 vaccines as the main antagonist, and Trump as a bumbling doofus who dooms the galaxy to terror: “Donald Trump is the Jar Jar Binks of this story, folks. I'm going to vote to use emergency powers. I nominate Palpatine. You say people gonna die? He's the -- he's the useful idiot. He's the Jar Jar Binks of the story.”