Trump's attacks on DeSantis appear to fall flat during Texas rally

March 27, 2023

A polling aggregate published by Real Clear Politics puts former President Donald Trump well ahead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the GOP's 2024 presidential primary race.

For his part, Trump has been aggressive in his public criticism of DeSantis. However, an incident from this past weekend suggests that approach may be a mistake. 

Trump claims DeSantis begged him for an endorsement

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that thousands turned out to hear Trump speak at a rally in Waco, Texas on Saturday, with some attendees traveling long distances.

Yet according to Fox News, the audience's enthusiasm appeared to dissipate somewhat when the former president launched into a diatribe against his Florida rival.

Trump at point claimed that DeSantis begged him for an endorsement when he was running his first gubernatorial campaign in 2018.

"So, he came, and he really wanted [my endorsement]. I said, 'You can’t win, can you? How do you – can [you] win?'" Fox News quoted Trump as saying.

Former president plays down DeSantis' record

"‘Sir, if you endorse me, I’ll win. Please, please, sir, endorse me,'" the former president recalled using a mocking, desperate-sounding voice.

"He gets the nomination because of you. He wins the election because of you. Two years later, the fake … is up there saying, 'Will you run against the president? Will you run?' And he says, I have no comment,'" Trump recalled.

Trump then went on to minimize DeSantis' achievements while in office, declaring, "Remember one thing: Florida has been tremendously successful for many years, long before this guy became governor."

"Florida was tremendously successful under Rick Scott … whether you like him or not, Charlie Crist was very successful, he was a Republican at the time," the former president insisted, arguing, "But Florida has been successful for decades, in fact, probably as or more successful than it is now."

For his part, DeSantis has yet to publicly announce any intention to officially enter the race, although he did make a trip to Iowa earlier this month.

Crowd became "noticeably more silent" when Trump went after DeSantis

Fox News noted that these attacks did not appear to resonate with those in attendance, with the crowd growing "noticeably more silent" when DeSantis' name was raised.

Meanwhile, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro offered a similar assessment during Monday's episode of his podcast.

Shaprio pointed out that rally-goers did not shout their approval for Trump's attacks on DeSantis the way they did when he targeted Democrats like Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

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