During a radio interview with Florida radio host Brian Mudd, former President Trump continued to insist that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis won’t run in 2024, but then went on to comment on both the 2024 race and Desantis’s 2018 gubernatorial victory.
In the past, Trump has said that if both he and DeSantis run, he thinks DeSantis will drop out. However, that’s not because he thinks DeSantis lacks talent or would lose, but because avoiding a fight would be good for the party.
During the interview with Mudd, Trump commented on the idea of DeSantis running and had this to say:
“I do think if I run, he won’t. I know they try and create a friction. I don’t think it exists at all. It might, you know, you never know. If he wanted to run, that’s OK with me. I think we’d win by a lot. But he’s good. And he’s done a good job as Governor.”
As usual, it’s a perceptive comment, but is also somewhat unclear. What is obvious is that Trump thinks that either he or DeSantis will run and win in 2024. That’s probably true, at least in terms of the Republican primary, as Trump and DeSantis are far and away the most popular candidates among likely GOP voters.
Trump, however, has even more support than DeSantis, with two-thirds of the GOP wanting Trump and only 13% of the GOP preferring DeSantis to Trump.
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What is unclear, based on Trump’s comment to Mudd, is what Trump thinks will happen if both of them run for president because the comment “If he wanted to run, that’s OK with me. I think we’d win by a lot.” could mean two things.
On one hand, it could imply that Trump plans to drop out or not run if DeSantis decides to run. That is probably what would be best for the party, as it would avoid a fight between the MAGA base.
On the other hand, it could mean that Trump thinks DeSantis would beat him in the primary if both men ran. Given the former president’s aggressively pro-winning attitude, that interpretation is probably less likely.
DeSantis, for his part, told Fox that “It’s way down the road. It’s not anything that I’m planning for” when asked about if he’ll run in 2024.
What does appear evident, at least for now, is a distinct lack of enmity between the two men or anxiety over who will run.
Based on Trump’s comments and DeSantis’s non-committal attitude, what looks most likely is that one of them will run and be supported by the other, as they like each other and are similarly-minded stars in the GOP.