Why Is Trump Acting Like He’s Afraid of DeSantis?

News & Politics

There’s no doubt that Donald Trump has a substantial lead in the GOP primary polls. Some surveys even show that Ron DeSantis has seen a small dip in support. Yet Trump seems to be spending most of his energy attacking the Florida governor instead of Joe Biden.

General election polling is far more inconsistent. Some polls show Trump ahead, others show Biden ahead. But Trump seems to talk more about Ron DeSantis or his GOP primary polling than anything else.

I’ve been saying for some time now that Trump must be concerned that he doesn’t have the GOP nomination locked up, and that there’s enough time for the dynamics of this race to change dramatically.

His latest move seems to support this.

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On Friday, during an appearance on Real America’s Voice, Trump called on DeSantis to end his presidential bid in order to unify the Republican base for the 2024 election.

“I think he has to get out for the good of the party. He could have waited, and he would have been odds-on favorite for ’28, but he didn’t do that. I got him elected. If it weren’t for me, he wouldn’t be governor; he’d be working in a law office right now or doing whatever he was going to do,” Trump claimed.

Trump frequently criticizes DeSantis on the campaign trail while simultaneously taking credit for his political success.

“He was dead,” Trump said of DeSantis’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign, “when I endorsed him, he came begging for an endorsement, when I endorsed him he had a couple of — like a rocket ship. One day! One day.”

Trump and DeSantis had been political allies until DeSantis set his sights on the presidency — which Trump thinks he’s entitled to. Despite his lead in the polls, Trump is not only urging DeSantis to get out of the race, he’s refusing to debate him. Citing his commanding lead in the polls, Trump has so far indicated he has no intention of participating in next month’s debate.

“Why would I do it? Why would I put myself sort of at the mercy of a hostile network with very hostile people? It doesn’t make sense.”

Related: What Trump Supporters Don’t Get About DeSantis Supporters

Trump said he hasn’t made a final decision, but I wouldn’t count on him showing up.

But here’s what doesn’t really make sense: Why would Trump claim that DeSantis should drop out to unify the party, but not also call for any of his other primary opponents to do the same? It stands to reason that Republican voters who aren’t currently backing Trump are eager for an alternative, and DeSantis supporters might coalesce behind one of the other candidates before unifying behind Trump.

So why go after DeSantis, and DeSantis alone? Well, DeSantis has shown a great ability to raise money, he possesses a substantial war chest, and he is planning a long-term strategy. Given the early stage of the process and DeSantis’s proven ability to win battles many thought impossible, it would be premature to underestimate him. Without a doubt, he remains a formidable contender in this race, and that’s why Trump wants him out.

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