Humorous and demeaning nicknames for his rivals were former President Donald Trump’s calling card in the 2016 and 2020 elections, but according to one now-former Trump, that schtick was worn thin and Republican voters are ready to move on, the Washington Examiner reported.
That former donor is businessman Donald Tapia, who actually served as Trump’s ambassador to Jamaica from 2019 to 2021, but he has now shifted his support to the anticipated candidacy of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in large part due to the former president’s name-calling, and he likely isn’t alone in that regard.
Trump’s “name-calling has turned a lot of people off”
Politico reported this week on three major Republican fundraiser events in the coming days, including two in Florida’s Palm Beach — one for Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort, the other hosted by DeSantis — and another in Austin, Texas hosted by GOP strategist Karl Rove, that will be competing for the big donor money.
Tapia, a former electric company executive from Arizona who twice donated more than $100,000 to Trump’s campaign in 2016 and 2020, has since shifted his allegiance to the Florida governor and even donated $50,000 to his re-election campaign in 2022 and plans to attend the three-day weekend retreat for DeSantis donors.
He told Politico that he believed the DeSantis donor retreat would be “overwhelmingly” attended by other former Trump donors who have similarly grown bored with or disgusted by the former president’s insulting nicknames for his political opponents and rivals.
“The name-calling has turned a lot of people off,” Tapia said. “Let me tell you, we don’t like that.”
Focus group-testing lines of attack
Politico reported separately in late January that the operatives running former President Trump’s new super PAC, MAGA Inc., have been secretly holding meetings over the past couple of months with strategists and focus groups in preparation for the upcoming 2024 GOP primary.
Those preparations include testing out various lines of attack against Gov. DeSantis and other likely contenders, including assorted nicknames, to see which ones might stick or fall flat with both big-money donors and average voters.
Top Trump aide Taylor Budowich, who runs the new pro-Trump super PAC, told the outlet that “MAGA Inc., through deep opposition research, tested messages, and a significant war chest, is building a GOP primary guillotine that will welcome every challenger with swift and decisive force.”
Assortment of names for DeSantis
More recently, The New York Times reported that former President Trump and his team have been essentially workshopping different nicknames for Gov. DeSantis and other potential rivals, even as the Florida governor has refrained from engaging in response.
First, around the time of the midterm elections, Trump tried out “Ron DeSanctimonious,” given the governor’s efforts to remain above the fray, but that has since been supplemented by “Meatball Ron” — likely a shot at DeSantis’ weight, but possibly also in reference to his Italian heritage — and “Shutdown Ron,” in reference to the initial reaction of DeSantis, and virtually all other elected leaders, to close things down at the beginning of the pandemic out of an abundance of caution.
Trump has also made some dark insinuations about DeSantis with regard to old pictures of him as a young adult teacher at a party with high school students, and given that his team has reportedly conducted ample opposition research on the governor’s background, it won’t be surprising if other lines of attack or insulting nicknames are eventually introduced.
“Very unimportant subject”
Of course, despite his well-known penchant for saddling his opponents and rivals with devastating nicknames, the former president claimed in response to that article from The Times that it was all a “very unimportant subject” in his view.
In a post to his Truth Social account, Trump wrote, “All of the Fake News is reporting that I spend large amounts of my time coming up with a good ‘nickname’ for Ron DeSanctimonious, who is obviously going to give the presidential ‘thing’ a shot. They are all 100% wrong, I don’t even think about it — A very unimportant subject to me!!!”