Trump And DeSantis Unite

The White House from Washington, DC, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Former President Donald Trump fired warning shots at Florida Governor DeSantis with his recent comments that confirm tensions between the two men are reaching boiling point.

On Saturday, at a campaign stop in Pennsylvania, Trump called DeSantis “Ron DeSanctimonious,” a move that quickly grabbed headlines and was described as a “weak attack” and “petty” by a former Trump campaign adviser.

But Trump’s new nickname for DeSantis isn’t only a jab at a potential 2024 contender; the context under which Trump made the remarks point to the former President marking his territory.

When Trump called DeSantis “DeSanctimonious,” he was relaying his polling figures compared to likely 2024 competitors — DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, and Rep. Liz Cheney.

The pointed nicknaming of DeSantis was not only headline-grabbing but also signaled to DeSantis that Trump still holds the lion’s share of support within the GOP. The undertone of the remarks points to Trump telling others not to bother running against him, especially as he plans to announce his White House bid sooner than any of his potential contenders.

While the focus on Trump’s remarks on DeSantis was that they point to tensions among the two men reaching boiling point, by Sunday — when stumping for Senate candidate Marco Rubio in Florida — Trump had dropped the nickname.

Instead, he called on Florida Republicans to support DeSantis in his reelection bid, telling attendees, “you are going to reelect Ron DeSantis as your governor.”

But Trump wasn’t joined by DeSantis, who hadn’t been invited to Sunday’s event in what many believe was a slight to DeSantis and a conscious effort not to platform a potential 2024 rival.